I was reading the "what do you want your robot to do" thread and I thought this application deserved a new thread. I'd like a robot that will patrol a dock in order to keep geese and swans off it.
- Operate at night and charge during the day.
- Find its own charging station in the morning and start patrolling on its own at night.
- Operate between 20 and 90 degrees F. Operation could encompass deciding whether conditions are suitable for patrolling. Maybe the possibility of ice at low temperatures precludes patrolling. However, the dock is used when there is ice or snow on it, so it would be more desirable if patrolling could occur at low temperatures.
- Distinguish between the dock and the water (which is sometimes frozen). The height of the dock is not always greater than the water.
- Handle bad weather gracefully - if it is raining or snowing, it should be able to recognize unsuitable conditions and seek shelter at its charging station until the bad weather abates. Or if there's snow or ice on the dock, it could not patrol.
- Negotiate a fairly steep ramp.
This problem seems pretty straightforward (all the robot has to do is (slowly) wander around a rectangular area and find its charging station) until you start thinking about how to handle the details reliably. What will happen when rain or snow gets on a camera, sonar or IR sensors? How to stay on the dock?