These robots were built for Shilpa Gupta, an independent artist based here in Mumbai. The idea was to have a set of robots follow a line pattern on the floor and chant out a pre-recorded message.
The Artbots trace back their roots to the previously built line following robot named ‘Basanti’. The robots have evolved over a period of time, going through three revisions. The earlier robots were built to follow a line in groups and were equipped with proximity sensors at the front and reflectors at the back. This allowed them to maintain a safe distance amongst themselves while following the pattern on the floor; back to back. But we later adopted a simpler option of running just one robot at a time. So the new version did away with the proximity sensors. A sound IC and an amplifier were also integrated in the new design.
Generation 1: These robots were built around the PIC16F84 microcontroller and had modulated proximity sensors at the front. The small geared motors used to drive the robots turned out to be very weak.
Generation 2: The motors were replaced with bigger geared motors ordered from Solarbotics. The chassis was now built out of foam PVC sheet.
Generation 3: The latest robots use PIC18F252 microcontroller and have an integrated sound IC with an LM358 based audio amplifier. The PVC sheet was replaced with wood to add to the robot’s ‘homely’ character.
The robots were showcased at Shilpa’s exhibitions in Bodhi, Berlin (June 2008) and more recently at Bodhi Space, Mumbai (it’s on display till Oct end; do catch a glimpse if you can!)
You can watch Shilpa’s video interview and her work at Bodhi, Berlin here.
And here is a video of the robot currently displayed at Bodhi Space, Mumbai (11 Oct – 31 Oct 2008) :
The robot was programmed to have characteristics of the “left-right-left-right” marching sequence.