Sensors and Actuators
Sensors are devices which measure quantities which the robot can use to achieve given tasks.
Examples of what a robot may need to determine include:
- How far away and where is an object (like another robot, a light, a wall)?
- At what speed is the robot moving?
- If the robot is on a hill, at what angle is it?
- If the robot is rotating, by how much has it rotated?
- Where is the robot, or in what direction is it going?
- How far it has it travelled (which is odometry)?
- How much power has it consumed?
- What information is being communicated to the robot?
The robot may require internal and external sensors.
External sensors are used to measure other objects, for instance:
- How far away is an object?
- Where is the object?
Internal sensors are used to measure the robot itself, for instance:
- How fast it is going
- The angle of the robot
- Where it’s ‘gripper’ is
- How much power it’s consuming
An actuator is a device which causes something to happen.
This could be a robot movement, which is often achieved using motors:
- An actuator is needed to make the robots wheels turn.
- Or the joints of a robot arm rotate.
- Or for a robot gripper open or close.
Or it could be to let the others know what the robot is doing.
- A light being turned on to indicate the robot is working.
- Sound is being emitted - so the actuator is a loudspeaker.
- Communication in some form - so a transmitter is needed.
- An LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) screen for showing pictures and other data.