The no-hassle robot
Mobile surveillance robots are supposed to cut costs. But if they keep getting into trouble and need help, they can prove to be expensive.
GroundBot is unlike any other mobile robot on the market – it was originally designed to explore other planets. In other words, the nearest helping hand would have been millions of miles away.
So, we had one overriding aim: to develop a robot that would be extremely reliable.
On-road, off-road and over-water
GroundBot moves through mud, sand and snow without getting stuck. Here’s how:
Keeping it light
GroundBot is surprisingly light. Conventional surveillance robots, tipping the scales at over 200 kg, have a tendency to get bogged down in soft, unresisting surfaces. GroundBot weighs just 25 kg and can roll across all kinds of surfaces with ease.
Taking everything in its stride
The other reason why GroundBot can handle all kinds of terrain is its sheer size. Most robots are scaled down versions of the real thing. GroundBot, with its 60 cm diameter, is slightly larger than a standard automobile tire. This means it just rolls over uneven surfaces taking them in its stride.
And because GroundBot is sealed and has such a low density it can even float!
Safe and sealed
When you send cameras and other sensors across the solar system, you don’t want them to get damaged once they get there. That was one of the reasons for using a spherical mobile platform: everything is protected inside the sphere.
Protecting the payload
When you want to know what’s going on in your backyard, you need to be able to rely on your electronic eyes and ears. With GroundBot you can. There’s nothing sticking out that can get caught, damaged or broken off since all cameras and sensors are safely stowed away inside the sphere.
In addition to this, the entire system is hermetically sealed from the outside world.
This has two advantages:
- One: sand cannot get inside GroundBot and cause problems in the moving parts.
- Two: GroundBot can be used to investigate suspected gas leaks, since the gas cannot come into contact with electrical sparks generated by the robot’s motor.
GroundBot is also tough. It’s designed to take knocks and drops and, of course, it doesn’t have problems with overturning.
A quiet and efficient operator
GroundBot is extremely efficient. Despite its low weight, GroundBot gives you the same robust performance figures you get from robots ten times heavier.
For example, GroundBot can run in most terrains at up to 10 km/h (6 mph). It can operate for 8-16 hours depending on mission profile, while taking just 3-4 hours to recharge.
This is how it works
The secret to its efficiency is the ingenious, patented drive mechanism.
A controlled pendulum keeps the center of gravity very close to the inside surface of the sphere. At rest, the center of gravity is close to the ground.
To create momentum, a built-in motor raises the pendulum. This changes the center of gravity and GroundBot begins to roll in the direction that the pendulum has been moved.
Any which way
It is a system that is as simple as it is efficient. GroundBot can move backwards and forwards. Acceleration and deceleration are fast and smooth. Move the pendulum to the side, and GroundBot turns.
Not only does it take very little energy to drive GroundBot, but virtually no noise is generated either. So GroundBot moves around without drawing attention to itself.
Less is much more
Research shows that when operators are overloaded with information, they perform their main task, guarding, less efficiently. We’ve kept the user interface simple so that guards can do what they do best – analyze situations and take decisions.
When using a mobile sensor platform like GroundBot, the first step in reducing cognitive overload is to simplify navigation. GroundBot can be steered manually or programmed to automatically follow a route.
Intuitive manual control
We’ve made manual control as intuitive as driving an arcade game. With our patented system software, operators get real-time, panoramic video streams in 2D or 3D.
Because GroundBot is easy to steer – new operators get the hang of it in minutes –guards can spend more time and energy looking for anything unusual. And the real-time, near-reality video images heighten the feeling that you are right there, out in the field.
Automatic navigation with GPS and dead-reckoning
Programming automated routes couldn’t be simpler. Operators select way points on a map with mouse clicks which GroundBot will then follow. You can even preselect different camera pan, tilt and zoom settings for different sections of the route.
Route accuracy is ensured by using both GPS and dead-reckoning. GPS provides precision; dead-reckoning offers continuity in radio shadows.
Un-Graphical User Interface
To further lighten the cognitive load on operators, we’ve kept the interface as free from unnecessary information as possible. Apart from the live video streams, the only additional information displayed is the battery level and a direction indicator. This allows guards to give guarding their undivided attention.
The patented interface and navigation software can of course be adapted for use with other robotic and surveillance systems.
MPEG-4 for plug-and-play integration
You can integrate GroundBot with existing systems with plug-and-play simplicity. The video streams are transmitted via MPEG-4 wrapped in RTP/RTSP. In other words, GroundBot is easy to integrate with virtually any legacy system.