Published on 10 Apr 2016. Written by Sushanth Ranjan
The most important thing about getting started with robotics is to start. You should not be really stressed about the prerequisites of starting with robotics because there isn’t any. The best way to start learning about robotics is to get your hands dirty and then learn what you want to learn in your own way. You should start even if you don’t know anything!!!
A Robot is essentially a local area network of sensor and actuators connected by physical joints in usually a tree like structure. Ability to build robots requires background knowledge in electronics, automation, and similar things. There are many aspects of discussion and exploration, but one thing is certain- the best way to get into robotics is to build one.
Building a project will expose the practical side of an individual. Project based learning leads to interactive education and create a deeper impact on an individual. Projects play a vital role in improving skills as well as it boosts career opportunities. Most of the projects involve teamwork or programs where students are required to work in a group. On the other hand, it also makes the learning part more fun as students are able to grasp more while learning it in a group.
Building your own robot is a great way to teach yourself both electronics and computer engineering. Start out with simple projects like making a line follower robot/ obstacle avoider robot. Then, start making it more complex like adding controller to your line follower robot. Move onto a little more complex robot where you guide it by a mobile or make a manually operated robot which can be controlled by a wireless remote.
Learning Robotics through project-based training will ensure that you have a prior knowledge on all the topics which are required to build a robot. Project based learning modules are designed such that you will learn and understand all the concepts related to a particular part and then go ahead and build that part. Project-based learning also does a continuous check on your understanding of concepts by reviewing at the end of each module.
In order to build a simple robot, you’ll need to assemble several components. You need to assemble components like microcontroller, batteries, servos, breadboard, wheel on the chassis. Assembly of the robot is important to optimize the design and aesthetics of robot.
Here you will learn how to connect different components to the breadboard, Pin connections, how to connect jumper wires to pins, sensor connections and also power connections.
A microcontroller is a computing device capable of executing a program and is often referred as the brain of the robot since it is usually responsible for all computation, decision making, and communication. In order to communicate with the outside world, a microcontroller has series of pins which can be powered High or Low through programming instructions. Most of the microcontrollers can also measure analog voltage signal through an analog to digital converter.
While building a robot one understands the working of different kind of sensors like a push button, pressure sensors, and Ultra sensor range finders. Selection of sensor depends on the function and application of robot.
Programming is usually the final step in building a robot. The assembled robot is something that you initially wanted to build but without programming, the robot is a very good looking and expensive paperweight. There are many programming languages that can be used to program a microcontroller, the most common of which are assembly, basic, C/C++, Java, .net/C#, Processing, and Python.
Python is the most popular scripting languages. It is very simple to learn and can be used to put programs together and very fast.
The best way to get started with robotics is to build one hands-on. Building a robot hands-on will concrete your understanding on the assembly of robots, microcontrollers, sensors and programming of a robot. Project-based courses are designed in a way to develop these skills, which a student learn while building their project.