• For the last few years each game has started out with an autonomous period, in which the robots move based only on pre-programmed commands and sensor input.

Timer Based

  • Robot follows pre-programmed commands that each last for a given length of time.
  • Time can be judged by either using the processors timers or by counting the number of cycles that have passed.

Common Sensors

  • Range Finders
  • Light Sensors
  • Limit Switches
  • Hall Effect
  • Encoders
  • Gyros
  • Camera
  • etc...

Basic Sensor Use

  • There is always some value you are trying to "get" to
  • Go until you get to that value, then stop
  • Problems: tends to overshoot the goal

PID Control

  • PID stands for Proportional-Integral-Derivative
  • A way of using what you know from your sensors to compute an "intelligent" motor output
  • Incorporates the idea that you need to slow down as you get close so you don't overshoot the target

Our Example

  • We want to drive our robot forward 10 metres, and then stop.
  • The concepts we explore do not always have to involve distance. (ie. your goal may be to maintain a certain speed or certain rate of acceleration)

Proportional (P)

  • A measure of how far you are away from your goal
  • The larger the P value, the larger the motor output should be, since you have farther to go
  • In our example this would be the distance remaining between our current position and our goal of 10 metres

Calculating Distance

  • An encoder or hall effect sensor can be used to keep track of how far a wheel has turned.
  • Hall effect sensors (or "gear tooth counters") signal the RC when a gear tooth passes in front of it. It is possible to calculate the distance each gear tooth covers.
  • Encoders signal the RC for each part of a revolution turned. The number of signals per revolution varies.
  • An advantage of encoders is that some ("quadrature encoders" are able to distinguish between forward and reverse movement)

Derivative (D)

  • How quickly you are moving towards your goal
  • Unlike P, when D is higher you want to "pull back" your motor output. This keeps you from heading towards your target too quickly. If P is still large (ie you are far from your target) then it will "overpower" the D
  • In our example this would be the speed we are traveling towards the goal

Calculating Speed

  • We have already seen how to keep track of the distance we have covered
  • Since cycles occur at set time intervals, it is possible to keep track of speed by calculating the distance travelled since the last cycle

speed = last cycle distance - current cycle distance

Integral (I)

  • The integral is how long you have been away from your targe.
  • The idea is that the longer the robot has not made it to the target, the more power should be applied to get it there
  • The most difficult part to incorporate. PD control alone can be very effective

Measuring I

  • I is the sum of the distances you are away each time. It can be calculated by adding up the P value from each loop
  • In actual use, this value can grow VERY quickly, especially with a cycle time of ~ 27ms
  • A useful alternative is to "cap" the contribution to I each cycle to 1
    • If the robot is not at the target, add 1 to I
    • If the robot is close to the target, reset I

Calculating the Motor Output

  • The basic formula is:
    output = P * CP + I * CI - D * CD
  • Where CP, CI, and CD, are values tweaked to get the proper result
  • There are some methods to calculate the values of CP, CI, and CD, but it is generally more effective to find them by trial in error in robotics

Method for Setting Values

  • Start with CP small and CI, CD both zero
  • Raise CP until the robot is oscillating consistently around the target
  • Once this is accomplished, start increasing CD until the robot stops oscillating
  • Then add CI until the robot stops within a desired range of the target