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PICList Thread
'Robot Lawnmowers'
1997\11\17@233828 by Dave Mullenix

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Someone recently asked (possibly humorously) for information on PIC
controlled robot lawnmowers.  Well, I don't know about the PIC, but here's a
page devoted to robotic lawnmowers:

http://www.idx.com.au/~deverett/mowbot/archive.htm

It also has links to other robot lawnmower pages.  Start designing now.
Spring is only four months away.

Dave, N9LTD

1997\11\18@010851 by Michael S. Hagberg

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no not funny,

i don't think that any of us (with lawns) haven't thought of this project. i
see they have a link to the 2x compass. i read the specs and didn't feel
that this device was accurate enough for a guidance system. counting ticks
on the wheel revolutions won't work either because the ground is not flat. i
saw a robot show on tv where they used dual gps receivers about the size of
a pack of cigeretts. does anyone know who makes devices like this. or how
would you send a robot 200 feet (70 meters) down a property line without
mowing over your neighbors flower garden?

michael

1997\11\18@011714 by Charles Hoss

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Michael S. Hagberg wrote:
>
> no not funny,
>
> i don't think that any of us (with lawns) haven't thought of this project. i
> see they have a link to the 2x compass. i read the specs and didn't feel
> that this device was accurate enough for a guidance system. counting ticks
> on the wheel revolutions won't work either because the ground is not flat. i
> saw a robot show on tv where they used dual gps receivers about the size of
> a pack of cigeretts. does anyone know who makes devices like this. or how
> would you send a robot 200 feet (70 meters) down a property line without
> mowing over your neighbors flower garden?
>
> michael

the gps is not too reliable at this resolution :)
the vector is good, but you have to measure the distance from a few
points to make a reliable navigation system
(or you could detect the position of the 'mower with some kind of ccd
and send the directions back thru radio)

bye
charley

1997\11\18@014645 by tjaart

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Michael S. Hagberg wrote:
>
> no not funny,
>
> i don't think that any of us (with lawns) haven't thought of this project. i
> see they have a link to the 2x compass. i read the specs and didn't feel
> that this device was accurate enough for a guidance system. counting ticks
> on the wheel revolutions won't work either because the ground is not flat. i
> saw a robot show on tv where they used dual gps receivers about the size of
> a pack of cigeretts. does anyone know who makes devices like this. or how
> would you send a robot 200 feet (70 meters) down a property line without
> mowing over your neighbors flower garden?

Any GPS receiver with differential input capability will do. One remains
stationary and calculates the range errors. These are sent to the
roaming GPS
receiver which applies it to its own position.

It's gonna be one expensive lawn mower...

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1997\11\18@032256 by David H Hackos

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At 07:14 AM 11/18/97 +0100, you wrote:
>Michael S. Hagberg wrote:
>>
>> no not funny,
>>
>> i don't think that any of us (with lawns) haven't thought of this
project. i
>> see they have a link to the 2x compass. i read the specs and didn't feel
>> that this device was accurate enough for a guidance system. counting ticks
>> on the wheel revolutions won't work either because the ground is not
flat. i
{Quote hidden}

How about a metal wire buried a few inches below ground at the edges of
your property?  You could have the wire conduct an oscillating current
(maybe 60Hz).  The landmower would then detect the resulting EM field using
a simple high gain amplifier, which would tell the landmower that it is at
the edge of the property.  Or perhaps even better, bury the wire in the
path of the lawnmover so that the mower simply follows the buried wire
around the yard, avoiding trees, etc.

Dave Hackos
Dept. of Physiology
University of California, San Francisco

1997\11\18@032714 by Leon Heller

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In message <.....34711B95.77023832KILLspamspam@spam@facstaff.wisc.edu>, Dave Mullenix
<djmullenspamKILLspamFACSTAFF.WISC.EDU> writes
>Someone recently asked (possibly humorously) for information on PIC
>controlled robot lawnmowers.  Well, I don't know about the PIC, but here's a
>page devoted to robotic lawnmowers:
>
>http://www.idx.com.au/~deverett/mowbot/archive.htm
>
>It also has links to other robot lawnmower pages.  Start designing now.
>Spring is only four months away.
>
>Dave, N9LTD

A former colleague of mine was working on one. It used a 16C84 and
basically did a random walk around his living room floor within an area
delimited by a cable carring a very low-power RF signal. He never
actually got it cutting grass, they had their first child and he didn't
have the time to spare to finish it off. Before he built it, he did a
graphical simulation of the random walk algorithm on the SPARC he used
at work.

Leon
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Leon Heller: .....leonKILLspamspam.....lfheller.demon.co.uk http://www.lfheller.demon.co.uk
Amateur Radio Callsign G1HSM    Tel: +44 (0) 118 947 1424
See http://www.lfheller.demon.co.uk/rcm.htm for details of a
low-cost reconfigurable computing module using the XC6216 FPGA

1997\11\18@073452 by Alec Myers

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>> i don't think that any of us (with lawns) haven't thought of this project. i
>> see they have a link to the 2x compass. i read the specs and didn't feel
>> that this device was accurate enough for a guidance system. counting ticks
>> on the wheel revolutions won't work either because the ground is not flat. i
>> saw a robot show on tv where they used dual gps receivers about the size of
>> a pack of cigeretts. does anyone know who makes devices like this. or how
>> would you send a robot 200 feet (70 meters) down a property line without
>> mowing over your neighbors flower garden?

Surely this is an ideal project for ultrasonic ranging:

Four ping-ing transponders (well, three, but four for reliability) at the
corners of your lawn triggered by low-power radio from the mower-mounted
controller will give you accurate distances, hence position. You need to
walk the mower (or just the controller) around the area to be mowed,
logging coordinates as you go, and then let it fill in the bit in the
middle. The ultra-sonics will probably keep the moles away. too. <G>.

I know this kind of technique has been used on automatic follow-spot
systems for stage use. It had a PC as the 'smarts' but a PIC might do.

Incidentally, on the subject of splitting this list: I believe if you try
and separate out the threads into newbie stuff, advanced stuff, OT stuff
etc. you'll kill the reasons the list works well. I'm just as interested to
hear about ideas/problems/solutions in the electronics you find around a
PIC as in the PIC itself. Yes, it does take a while to trawl through all
the messages - but the advantage of having such an active list is that if
you post a query you can bet on a replies within 12 hours. I think the
occasional rambling thread (Canadian accents comes to mind?!) is a small
price to pay.

Alec

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1997\11\18@091332 by Jack Warren

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Several years ago there was a series of articles in Radio-Electronics (I
think?!?!?) which was a do-it-yourself autonomous lawn mower.  It used a
series of split IR emitter/detector pairs to sense the "length" of the grass
blades.  The steering mechanism attempted to keep half of the IR pairs in the
uncut grass.

Using this method, you mow around all of the obsticles in the yard, then go to
auto mode and let the mower do it's thing.  I'm not sure what it did when it
got done...


Regards,
Jack Warren

1997\11\18@101120 by Glenn Johansson

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part 0 581 bytes
I think this lawnmower is sold by Husqvarna in Sweden and costs about 1500 USD. I don't know if it has a theft protection system, but it would be easy to implement a code lock.

I am currently interested in robot vacuumcleaners. The same stategy can't be used there, since indoor areas are smaller and more complex. A vacuumcleaner that navigates at random, can't be trusted to clean all areas. But there are reliable and cheap solutions to that to (they are NOT radio or ultrasonic navigation, GPS or expensive computer vision). However, the brain is not a PIC.

Glenn
Sweden




1997\11\18@102622 by Benjamin Wirz

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Hi Guys,

       The only comerical robotic lawn mower I know required you to bury a cable which is really the only truly safe way to handle the problem.  There is still the issue of what happens if the cable fails due to a power outage.

Ben

----------
From:   Charles Hoss[SMTP:timothyspamspam_OUTBEKES.HUNGARY.NET]
Reply To:       pic microcontroller discussion list
Sent:   Tuesday, November 18, 1997 1:14 AM
To:     @spam@PICLISTKILLspamspamMITVMA.MIT.EDU
Subject:        Re: Robot Lawnmowers

Michael S. Hagberg wrote:
{Quote hidden}

the gps is not too reliable at this resolution :)
the vector is good, but you have to measure the distance from a few
points to make a reliable navigation system
(or you could detect the position of the 'mower with some kind of ccd
and send the directions back thru radio)

bye
charley

1997\11\18@111423 by tomfool

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> saw a robot show on tv where they used dual gps receivers about the
> size of a pack of cigeretts. does anyone know who makes devices like
> this. or how

GPS like this is only accurate enough to tell you that your lawnmower
is within several dozen feet of your lawn. If you have a *really* big
lawn, this may be useful. Also, GPS gets intentionally `fuzzed' in
times of war and other international tensions, so you risk mowing your
neighbors lawn instead.  (Which, of course, might be a kindness if he
or she is a called-up reservist or something.)

-tom

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1997\11\18@142300 by Steve Smith

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Consider a Goat

Benifits
1. Self propelled
2. Enviromently friendly
3. Will destroy grass to the extent of its tether.
4. Provides libral quantites of fertiliser and distributed in a random
manner.
5. Quieter than conventional mower.

Non benifits
1. Prone to destroying other crops.
2. Requires water as a propellent.
3. Need stake to tether it to.
4. Needs to be kept away from washing see 1 above.
5. Requires small shelter from adverse weather but so does mower.


Well its an idea maybe sombody could elabrate on the above ideas.

Cheers Steve.

1997\11\18@173641 by Dave Mullenix

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At 02:24 PM 11/18/97 +0100, Glenn from Sweden wrote:
>It wouldn't work and it wouldn't be cheap. With the existing level of
technology, the perfect robot lawnmower already exists. It's a lightweight
solar powered thing that doesn't actually navigate but just rumbles around
in the garden at random. It turns another way if it hits an obstacle (and
most gardens ARE full of unpredictable obstacles - garden hoses, soccer
balls, garden furniture, buckets, barbecues etc). A radio-wave emitting
cable can be buried to prevent it from entering plantation areas and get
stuck in plants. The lawnmower is a bit slow since it is so tiny, but on the
other hand it is silent and can be always working! Since it's solar powered
it never needs to be recharged or refilled with gasoline.
>
>I think this lawnmower is sold by Husqvarna in Sweden and costs about 1500
USD.
Closer to $5000 US.

I don't know if it has a theft protection system, but it would be easy to
implement a code lock.

There is.  The buried cable transmits a code word.

This lawnmower is reviewed on the web page I posted yesterday.  I saw one in
operation a few years ago at a solar power fair.  It's a neat device.  I'd
have one of they cost $200 US.

Dave, N9LTD

P.S. It's silent, except that it beeps regularly while operating.  It also
has other beep patterns it uses when it gets stuck, etc.  Also, you have to
mow a narrow strip around the outside edge of your yard that the mower
blades can't reach and also in any shady areas, which the mower is
programmed to avoid.  Personally, I'd like to get one just to see how my
cats react to a large green "mouse" bumbling around their territory, going
"Beep beep!".

1997\11\18@180340 by Dave Mullenix

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>        The only comerical robotic lawn mower I know required you to bury a
cable which is really the only truly safe way to handle the problem.  There
is still the issue of what happens if the cable fails due to a power outage.

The Husky cable is solar powered with NiCad backup batteries, presumeably in
case the cat lays on the solar cell.

Dave, N9LTD

1997\11\18@215307 by Michael S. Hagberg

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if two gps receivers are used one stationary an one on the mower the mower's
position can be calculated to within 1cm.  you read both receiver at the
same time an calculate the difference then apply this to the fixed and known
location of the stationary receiver.

michael


{Original Message removed}

1997\11\19@082139 by Kieran Sullivan

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A friend of mine has one of the Husky solar mowers...He reckons they
trample more grass than they cut. You might need the mower to 'hover' if it
is going to be effective. Also the price is a bit too high, about 3000 UK
pounds or so.

Kieran

----------
From:   Dave Mullenix[SMTP:RemoveMEdjmullenTakeThisOuTspamFACSTAFF.WISC.EDU]
Sent:   18 November 1997 22:30
To:     spamBeGonePICLISTspamBeGonespamMITVMA.MIT.EDU
Subject:        Re: Robot Lawnmowers

P.S. It's silent, except that it beeps regularly while operating.  It also
has other beep patterns it uses when it gets stuck, etc.  Also, you have to
mow a narrow strip around the outside edge of your yard that the mower
blades can't reach and also in any shady areas, which the mower is
programmed to avoid.  Personally, I'd like to get one just to see how my
cats react to a large green "mouse" bumbling around their territory, going
"Beep beep!".

1997\11\20@193718 by Pierce Nichols

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On Tue, 18 Nov 1997, Michael S. Hagberg wrote:

> a pack of cigeretts. does anyone know who makes devices like this. or how
> would you send a robot 200 feet (70 meters) down a property line without
> mowing over your neighbors flower garden?

       Well, it seems to me that the boundary problem is the one where
accurate position measurement is the most important. However, there is a
system, designed to restrain dogs, called "invisible fence" -- it consists
of a cable buried around the area you want to restrain the dog to and a
thing that goes on the dog's collar. When the dog crosses the buried wire,
the device gives the dog a shock. I would think that this could be easily
adapted to the problem of mowing the neighbor's flowers.

       Pierce Nichols

"I have a work order for the immediate demolition of your reality tunnel."

       -Bob, RAW Construction Corp.

--Begin Geek Code Block--|------Begin Goth Code Block------
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1997\11\21@084321 by Jack Warren

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> thing that goes on the dog's collar. When the dog crosses the buried wire,
> the device gives the dog a shock. I would think that this could be easily
> adapted to the problem of mowing the neighbor's flowers.
>
>         Pierce Nichols
>

Yeah, but the flowers would die if you shock them...

Jack

1997\11\21@090632 by Roger Books

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> > thing that goes on the dog's collar. When the dog crosses the buried
> > wire, the device gives the dog a shock. I would think that this could be
> > easily adapted to the problem of mowing the neighbor's flowers.
> >
> >         Pierce Nichols
> >
>
> Yeah, but the flowers would die if you shock them...
>

Silly, you don't shock the flowers, you shock the Lawnmower.

Roger

(The only place I want to see another #$&^ goat is fixed as part of a
dish at an ethnic restaraunt.  They are more destructive than a
teething puppy, and a billy goat has to be one of the vilest creatures
alive.)

1997\11\21@103109 by wilson

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On a slightly different theme ...

What about building a radio remote control lawnmower?

You could sunbathe in a deckchair with a bottle of bud,
and simply twiddle the joystick when you want it to change
direction.

Rod Wilson


Internet communications are not secure and therefore the Barclays Group does
not accept legal responsibility for the contents of this message.


'robot lawnmowers'
1999\04\09@095525 by Lawrence Lile
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Checked your website.  Pretty neat, David:

MOWING ALGORITHMS:  You are using a random series of 10' x 10' mowed
squares.  One of the people whose sites I looked at yesterday ran
mathematical simulations of purely randow mowers.  He figured that his
random mower would cover his entire yard in 24 hours of sun.

I'm looking to do a very simple mowing algorithm. Why?  Less software.  Fits
in a PIC1654. [Be still, ye flamers - it IS on topic!]  I'm going to use a
simple bumper object avoidance system, and if the mower hits an object, it
stops mowing (in case it's a dog or a kid)  turns a little, and begins going
in reverse.  I don't know if turning the same amount each time, same
direction, or a pseudorandom amount each time is better.  I may run some
simulations myself.

Think of that screen saver that draws a relatively random shape on your
screen.  Does it not cover the entire screen eventually?  For a simple
shaped yard, this may be enough.  For a complex yard, it may not work.  So I
have to pick the thing up and place it in another section every once in a
while, maybe?  Still beats mowing by hand.

POWER BUDGET:  I'm trying to go real small.  I was out in the yard last
night trying to mow  with a 30MA cassette motor and a piece of trimmer
string.  It wimped out pretty bad.  I'm going to go through my junkpile and
find the wimpiest motor that will actually cut grass, maybe go with a more
efficient cutting mechanism.  (Stainless steel wire has been suggested - I
like the idea.  Might not cut off a foot stuck under the mower, just beat it
up some)

Why?  The power budget sets the size of everything else - the solar cells,
the chassis, the frame, the cloud-and-shadow batteries, etc.  Besides, I'm
just starting out.  That's one of the basic questions.
I'm looking at 1 or 2 square feet of solar cell, and maybe a 5:1 or 6:1
charge-to-mow ratio.

Where do you buy your cells and how much did they cost?




{Original Message removed}

1999\04\09@102313 by Fansler, David

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Lawrence Lile wrote: -clipped- Why?  The power budget sets the size of
everything else - the solar cells, the chassis, the frame, the
cloud-and-shadow batteries, etc.  Besides, I'm just starting out.  That's
one of the basic questions.  I'm looking at 1 or 2 square feet of solar
cell, and maybe a 5:1 or 6:1 charge-to-mow ratio.

Where do you buy your cells and how much did they cost?

I choose to go with 10'x10' patterns to give some uniformity to the cutting.
I visited a couple of web sites mentioned yesterday dealing with "Mowbot".
Some one there had done a simulation that showed with a 6:1 (I think) ration
that he could cut his yard in a week using random motion.  I have no doubt
of this, but having a random cut in the middle of a section that was cut 5-6
days earlier probably would not look to good to the neighbors. :-)  As I see
it - which does not make it right - the only additional hardware needed is
separate PWM outputs for the drive motors and some sort of feed back on
wheel rotation to measure distance traveled and the velocity of each wheel.
Dual PWMs is why I choose the 17C44.

While I have not yet tried any cutters, my plan to an Al disk with a pair of
utility blades was tried and found to be successful by one of the writers on
Mowbot.

My current flow chart has the LG doing the following when it runs into an
obstacle: 1) stop the cutters, 2)backup a short distance,  3) turn cw 90
degrees, 4) change the length of that side of the square to account for the
shorten distance traveled, 5) activate cutters and start forward motion.

I have tried to  be very current conscious with my design.  The drive motors
and cutting motors are just over the current capacity of the solar cell
panels.  By having a pair of on board 12v gel-cells, I hope to be able to
run most all day of any sunny day.

The solar cells were purchased from Jameco - sorry I do not have a catalog
with me at work.  The spec's,  as I remember : 12"x12" at 4 watts, price
~$50.  I am using two of these units.

Hope this helps,

David V. Fansler
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AutoCyte, Inc.
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