Riding a bike can be challenging enough for humans, so seeing inventor Masahiko Yamaguchi's remote-controlled miniature robot tooling along on an equally miniature bicycle is quite a thrill.
"I'm interested in artificial intelligence, and in that context, I think intelligence and skills have equal value," said Yamaguchi. "So my purpose in creating this robot was to pursue intelligence from the skills side. While I was thinking of suitable topics, my local science museum demonstrated a cycling robot. So I decided to consider cycling as the skill, and build a bicycle robot."
The pint-sized rider pedals with its own feet and maintains its balance by adjusting the handlebars as needed. To keep track of tilt and make corrections to prevent falling over, Yamaguchi made his own control board with a SH7125 CPU core and incorporated a Tamagawa Seiki TAG201 gyro into the design. A proportional-integral-derivative controller (PID) governs the robot's balancing action.
"PID control is a classical control method. It's used to calculate how far to turn the handlebars when the frame tilts. By calculating proportional, integral, and differential components for the tilt, and adding them, the system calculates how far to turn the handlebars when the frame tilts. Also, the robot needs to decide which direction to go in, so we use a remote control to instruct it," Yamaguchi explained.
Because its mini-ride has no brakes (the little bicycle is fixed-gear), the operator can stop it simply by having the robot remove its feet from the pedals and put them on the ground.
"From now on, I'd like to link this robot's skill to its intelligence. I personally don't like using a remote control for the robot. I'd like to make the robot intelligent enough to ride by itself. This system is the first step toward doing that."
Check out the video below to see the robot biker in action: