Once again you’re trapped in a firefight between hundreds of mechanized sentient beings, with no route of escape that wouldn’t leave you riddled with the dawning of human extinction.
That is, until you see a little beast of a vehicle creep into view from around a corner. Your first thoughts are DOOM, but you soon realize it’s a reconnaissance bot out to rescue your scared wits. A surveillance vehicle known as The Delta Unit.
Obviously there will be few robots on our side in the coming robot apocalypse. So it’s always a good idea to know about the design, the designer and everything that goes into creating teleoperated first person view, unmanned ground vehicles (FPV UGVs)
Fortunately, we got a hold of Chris Rogers, the creator of The Delta Unit and other recon bots ready to brave lethal environments and really angry people. Chris fills us in on the design process. Check this out…
My design process is a bit unusual:
I first go for a bike ride. Then I lie down on a bench or a recliner and get really, really relaxed. I listen to trance/ambient music through headphones on my iPod.
I recall the goal. For example: Design a Robotic Solution to handle tough urban environments; Terrorism, Hostage situations, Chemical Spills, Search and Rescue, Crawl Spaces and other hostile environments.
Then I’ll list the parameters for the design: Rugged, able to climb a 6 inch city curb, able to pan and tilt a high-resolution camera, must be able to “see” in the dark, Range: 1000 feet, wireless, audio/video, aesthetically appealing, has a menacing, undertone, capable, modular, upgradeable, etc.
As I relax, my mind is soon filled with tons of ideas. And a strong image appears. I quickly sketch the concept. (in this case, the concept sketch you saw on Core77)
I usually start with preexisting ideas and combine them in new ways. Instead of reinventing the wheel, I’ll take a vandal dome from a security camera supply, and combine it with a fully upgraded Electric 4WD truck, a brushless motor to eliminate sparks and increase efficiency, create a feel: Stealthy, Capable, Low Profile, Urban Assault Vehicle and start prototyping.
For the Delta Unit, I sketched the concept from various perspectives, took some rough measurements, and went into SolidWorks to layout the deck, knowing the size of the various components, I was able to rough out an approximate plan, and through a series of tests with real equipment, I am able to solve the various problems which arise. For example, How can i get the video and data to transmit wireless for 1000 feet through an urban environment with lots of interference or how do you make a camera pan and tilt. I’ll spend anywhere from a day to months testing various products until I find something that works. Of course, I am continually going back to modify the design as I get new dimension and features.
I usually videotape the various test and upload them to YouTube for my followers.
I built a vacuum former so I can make plastic parts at home (its in the basement shop) I am on a budget of course, so once I had a 3D model, I printed out the various drawings, scanned them into Photoshop, scaled them up, and printed them out. I created a vacuum form buck from the scaled shop drawings and then the vacuum form shell. I attached my various tested components, and retest the final design, a few tweaks, and off it goes to the photo studio. (Also in the basement) (I was a commercial product photographer in a previous life). Then the fun begins: I take the project out into the real world [to] get potential customer feedback and test it in various environments, all the while videotaping and posting the results to my website or YouTube.
Great insight into what makes these bots go huh? Here’s more details on the various design aspects that Chris was referring to, but first check out the video. You’ll want to rush over to the site and buy one, if you have $6,000 and an interest in unmanned recon technology.
Scary Cool thing? It can also be armed – as long as we can control them, that’s cool.