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What is a robot? In general terms, a robot is an automated machine that gathers information from its surroundings, interprets it, and acts accordingly. A robot thus has three essential parts: sensors, processors, and actuators. Sensors can range from simple touch sensors to avoid obstacle or follow a wall, light sensors for line following, sonar rangers to calculate distance from object, odometers to measure the distance traveled, gyroscopes and accelerometers for inertial navigation etc. The processing can be done with a wide range of micro-controllers and the actuator can be DC or stepper motors that drive wheels, or move other parts of the robot.

One of the first robots I made

Autonomous Guided Vehicle

One such robotic project done at Kathmandu University is the Autonomous Guided Vehicle (AGV) Project. The AGV uses a camera and a processor to follow a line on the floor. It also has ultrasonic transducers that alert the processor when an obstacle is detected, and a wireless receiver that can receive commands from the end user. Such a system has wide application in industries for transportation purposes inside a factory, or in a hospital or in an office floor. One can then call the AGV, and assign it a delivery job.

For robotics, DC motors are the most appropriate ones. You can find Permanent Magnet Dc Motors of Windshield wipers of cars and motors of hand-drills suitable for medium sized robots. For small robots, you can use CD-ROM drive, floppy drive, HD, cassette player, and VCR motors for small robots. For wiper motors, go to Teku. You should get one for somewhere in between 1000 and 1500 rupees. For VCR motors go to the TV and VCR Repair shops at Pako, New Road and you can also try Bangemuda (GK Electronics - Tel. 4228069).

The Robot Menu: A robot gallery.
BEAM Robotics - uses minimalist electronics to create elegant mechanical creatures that parallel their natural counterparts
Control of Motors
Driving a DC Motor
The Experts explain the Bridge


I led a team of students from Kathmandu Engineering College to participate in the first Robotic Competition in Nepal. The objective was to play a game of soccer with 11 balls on the field in three minutes. We had constructed one automatic robot guided by vision and one manual robot controlled by user. We made a mistake of focusing on the electronics and image processing part more than the mechanism for the robot. Ours was a simple kicking mechanism. Our competitors had innovative mechanisms to steal and gather balls! So we lost! Maybe we will do better next time!