Remote Control Robot | 5 Important Applications and Characteristics

Remote Control Robot

Subject of discussion: Remote Control Robot and its characteristics

  • What is a Remote Control Robot?
  • Teleoperation
  • Types of Remote Control Robot
  • What are the critical components of a Remote Control Robot?
  • How can we build a Remote Control Robot?
  • What are the technologies used in Remote Control Robot?
  • What are the applications of a Remote Control Robot?
  • Are Remote Control Robot different from autonomous systems?

What is a Remote Control Robot?

Teleoperation

We all remember playing with the remote controlled car when we were little and race with our friends. Those sharp controls and turns made our childhood awesome. Well, get ready to know that it was the first remote-controlled robot we have had our hands-on. Now, it is the time to put our thinking caps on and understand the brilliance of an engineering mind that went into developing the concept of a remote-controlled robot. In simple words, it can be defined as follows:

A remote control robot falls under the category of semi-autonomous robots through shared human and machine control. The primary mode of interaction in it is teleoperation which happens via a transmitter and receiver system and directly in nature. Human beings control the machine by sending signals which are transmitted through a remote.

Types of a remote control robot

The two broad classifications of a remote controlled robot are based on the utilization of wired and non-wired systems:

Wired Remote Control Robot: 

The robot’s body is connected to the operating remote with wires or cables. This is the tethering concept that allows minimal mobility in the robot; hence it is usually used in a stationary system. But the cables pose numerous issues in the field of the mobile robot’s application because the wires can easily block the robot’s movement and become a hindrance in its path of operation.

Wireless Remote Control Robot: 

Absence of tethering of the robot’s body to the controller allows unlimited mobility and is a more popular choice for advanced research these days.

There is another type of remote controlled robots which are assisted by the operator to a calculated extent. In those types, the levels of difficulty of the tasks are quite extensive and varying. Although how the robot achieves the tasks and get the output depends entirely on the robot and the operator is not involved in any manner.

What are the critical components of a remote control robot?

The crucial components that robot is made of are: 

Body | frame: 

The body frame of the robot is the chassis that acts as the foundation. It takes the load of the entire system and determines the manipulability and movement of t is different parts. The body frame’s shape and size depending on the function that we want the robot to perform. In other words, the body frame is the structure or the skeleton of the robot and is not usually subject to aesthetics.

Control System: 

A robot’s control system is what the central nervous system is to a human being, and all aspects of the robot are controlled and coordinated by it. Sensors be responsible for feedback signal generation based on the robot’s surroundings or robot environments, directed to the Central Processing Unit (CPU) for further processing and decision making as per program. This may take help from a variety of inputs, instructions or manual commands.

These sensors are fitted on an electronic component called the microcontroller. 

A microcontroller is an electronic computing device capable of executing a program through an array of instructions fed to it by a computer. It is often mentioned as the “The brain of robot “or “The control center of robot” and responsible for all complex computations, decisions making, and signal communications etc.

Microcontroller

Let us build a remote-controlled robot to break down the critical components into electromechanical systems and understand their function in detail through a step-by-step process.

Decide the purpose of building the robot: 

The robot at a beginner’s level can be built for entertainment or as a part of the school project or for security outside the home.

Decide the type of control system you want to use for the robot: 

Here, we will be focusing on the concept of the remote-controlled robot because that is what we are trying to understand.

Decide the Actuator: 

For this, we first must learn what an actuator is? So, actuator is a device that utilizes energy to convert it into some physical motion.

There are mainly two types of actuator-for a wheeled robot rotary actuators and linear actuators .

Integrating microcontroller: 

As described earlier, a microcontroller is referred to as the “brain” or “control centre” in a robot. And it accounts for all computations, decision making, and communications. We will understand the functioning of a microcontroller in a different section.

Choosing the motor controller: 

A motor controller is an electro mechanical instruments that acts as an intermediator in between microcontroller, a powersupply, and motor. Various kinds of motor controllers are in use these days.

1. Brushed DC motor.

Image Source: anonymous, Electric motors en, CC BY-SA 3.0

2. Brush-less DC motor.

Image Source: Sebastian Koppehel, Floppy drive spindle motor open, CC BY 3.0

3. Servo Motor Controllers are used for hobby purposes.

4. Stepper Motor.

Installing the controlling device: 

The significant types of control devices for wireless functioning of a remote-controlled robot are:

1. Infrared– They utilize light for functioning and require a clear line of sight for operating the device. Mirrors can also reflect this signal. It uses extenders when subject to unavailability of a clear line of sight.

2. Radiofrequency– Usually called the RF module, this device utilizes radio signals for operating a robot from a distance.

3. Bluetooth– This is wireless and makes use of UHF radio waves for communication and operation.

4. Wi-Fi– This is also a wireless network protocol that uses the 2.4 gigahertz (120 mm) UHF and five gigahertz (60 mm) SHF ISM radio bands for data transmission and internet access.

Applying sensor:

What is the need for a sensor for a robot? Unlike human beings, robots are sensitive to the surrounding environment beyond sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste and for this various sensor has to be utilized. Researchers have alternatives to biological senses because mimicking a biological creature’s senses is a difficult task.

Getting the right tools: 

A robot needs a rigid outer cover to protect its hardware, subject to various sizes and functionalities. The correct tools are always not readily available. The components can be cast from scratch that have simpler designs, or it is possible to find some full robotics kits from the market. 

Assembling a robot: 

With all the components in hand, the robot is ready for assembly. Online tutorials are available for reference to correct procedures. Extreme caution must be practiced while connecting the motor controller to the micro-controller. However, any wrong step can damage the development board, and replace all components with new ones will become necessary.

Programming a robot: 

This is one of the last but very important step involved in the process of building a robot as main control operation has been performed as per this programming. Half of the job is done upon choosing the correct tools and electromechanical components for the robot. Without programming, however, the robot is no use because it will be a static model only. The most commonly used programming languages in robotics are C++, JAVA, Python, Basic etc.

What are the technologies used in remote control robots?

In earlier days, televisions were devoid of remote controls. Different knobs and buttons attached on the TV were entitled to different functions. We can all relate the push-system power button and a rotating knob for volume operation. Nothing today can be more tedious than that, thanks to the development of the remote controls.

One of the popular scientist Nikola Tesla, was the first person has invented wire less remote control in the year 1898, the with the advancement of technology, remote control based device can control nearly controlling our everyday life in present era.

Different Technology of Remote Control Robot

Remote controls today are mainly based on these underlying technologies:

Infra-red technology

One of the most commonly used control mechanism used in robotics is infra-red technology or IR technology. An IR-remote is sometime known as IR-transmitter and utilize infra-red light to send signal to the receiver embedded in the robot and this is corresponding to specific binary code that account for command like ”volumeup”, etc. The receiver is responsible for decoding the infra-red pulses of light into binary codes to understand the command and perform the due course of action.

Radiofrequency technology

These utilize the radio waves for the code transmission via RF transmitter. Contemporary satellites TV  having this type of remotes technology. With this remote, the robots can be easily controlled from the far distance that capable to control beyond 100 ft range.

Speech recognition technology

The most complex one to implement but is an essential asset to increase interaction with the robots is speech recognition. The aim corresponds to the analysis of a phrase spoken onto a microphone to be transcribed into written form for further use. Various APIs are available for this purpose. The ”Say It Module” is among the most popular ones that could be utilize speech recognition technology.

Sound technology

Although it reflects similarity with the speech recognition technology, they are still very different. It focuses more on the frequency of the sounds generated while the former is accountable for its acoustics and sounds generated by human can be used for programmed to trigger different applications.

Network technology

As the name suggests, it uses different transmitting networks for the remote’s functioning. It can be wired, or the remote can be connected to an Ethernet or wire less, such as WiFi, mobile Bluetooth or hotspot etc.

What are the applications of remote control robot?

  • Space probes placed in solar system usually employ sophisticated remote-controlled robots.
  • remote control robots empower us to perform intricate mission with accuracy and precision.
  • These are prominently integrated on military and combat operations.
  • These are employed in different kind of safety measures.
  • These are very useful in hazardous atmospheres like Deep sea exploration, Space research etc.

Are remote control robots different from autonomous systems?

Remote control robots are automatic robots that require human intervention through a transmitter and receiver system, in order to make them perform a desired function. It is highly dependent on the conmands of the master, human being in this case, through a wired or a non-wired system.

Autonomous systems on the other hand requires the minimum human intervention possible. It might just be limited to switching it on and off as desirable. Hence we can say that remote controlled robots are semi-sutonomous but fully autonomous robot is still a far-fetched idea to this idea.

To learn more about autonomous systems, click here.

About Esha Chakraborty

I have a background in Aerospace Engineering, currently working towards the application of Robotics in the Defense and the Space Science Industry. I am a continuous learner and my passion for creative arts keeps me inclined towards designing novel engineering concepts.
With robots substituting almost all human actions in the future, I like to bring to my readers the foundational aspects of the subject in an easy yet informative manner. I also like to keep updated with the advancements in the aerospace industry simultaneously.

Connect with me with LinkedIn - http://linkedin.com/in/eshachakraborty93