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Let’s review what we’ve covered this week

Recap what has been covered in Week 2 of the free online course, Begin Robotics.
Close up of a rover robot at the University of Reading.
© University of Reading

We hope you have enjoyed Week 2 of our course. Let’s review what we have covered.

This week has been about the anatomy of a robot – the sensors which allow it to perceive its environment; the actuators which allow it to do something, typically to move; its brain, which may be a computer; and briefly how the robot is powered.

We have shown you some of our robots, and pointed out their components – you have seen how ERIC is assembled.

On sensors, we have distinguished between internal and external sensors, and ones which have been inspired by nature. We note that some sensors have actuators as well. We have illustrated how echo location is used, using ultrasonics (which bats and dolphins use) or infrared. We have discussed accelerometers and shown how they are not only used in robots but also in mobile devices.

We have discussed actuators, from simple lights, through motors to muscles. We have discussed in detail how different motor speeds are commanded using voltages at two levels – using pulse width modulation; and shown how a series of switches are used to set the direction in which a motor rotates.

We have talked briefly about robot brains, noting that whilst they can be small computers, they can also be very simple memories or processing elements like neurons. We explore the neuron concept in more detail in Week 4.

Finally, through the exercises, you have determined the robot’s motor speeds so that ERIC can move around avoiding obstacles or homing in on lights.

In the next Step, you will have the chance to test yourself on what you’ve learnt in a quiz.

© University of Reading
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