Robot simulation software

Hi all,
I am starting to work on simulation software for robots design. Initially it will cover mechanical design. It is going to be a simple
program but later I am thinking of adding some electronics, specific to robotics (limited manner). Any ideas or input will be appreciated, even some software design, interface, functionality design ideas will be of great help.
Let me know how this effort could benefit us all.
Thanks and regards,
Umar Inam
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Hi, Mecha.
Will you be including inertia and other kinematic factors? I know that I have had some good success with simulation in my work. For many, I think the daunting factors are knowing how to calculate movement based on multiple driven wheels and fixed steering, like the two drive wheel platforms that can spin in place, although in reality it comes down just to the pivot points. As for electronics, a simple spreadsheet type logic gate array is very easy to simulate, and you could easily make a cell-based approach for such elements as sensors and drivers. I used a "strip and array" model with cell interconnects as the logical jumpers . One strip of eight sensors had outputs that could be effectively jumpered to any cell(s) in the array and then the cells acted as gates or functional blocks. Another strip functioned as drivers for any actuators such as motors. I did not go so far as to model arm or gripper movement but I did model simple magnetic pickup devices that could be actuated in software. The interesting part is to model the various types of stimuli for the sensors. Pretty basic trig can give you light cones and angle of view for optical sensors, and then you find that you want to assign material properties to the world. In fact, the world simulation itself becomes more complex mathematically than the robot in short order. A simple window interface is probably best, and surprisingly, the Lego Mindstorms robotics package has a robust programming interface that many would-be simulators can learn from. What will be your intended target audience- middle school, college, professional? Or is this really a personal project? Some of the best software packages have started out that way.
Cheers!
Sir Charles W. Shults III, K. B. B. Xenotech Research 321-206-1840
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Hi,
Initially I don't think I'll be using inertia or kinematics but will be including some sort of gravity. In my personal thoughts I think it will have three main modules 1. Mechanical Link design (to design links) 2. Assembly Manager (to construct mechanical assembly and simulate it) 3. Electronic Control (to define the active states and time of actuators like motors mainly comprises of logical gates and timers)
I agree it will be a mathematical intensive job especially the simulation part. Right now it's a personal project as I couldn't find any cheap solution over the net to design a good electro-mechanical robot, but I think I can attract hobbyist and collage students.
Thanks for the advice.
Regards,
Umar Inam Mecha
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Dear Mecha,
I'm not sure that this will help, but a few years back I wrote a 2-D simulation for mobile robots. I am no longer actively working on it... though, from time to time, I do think about enhancing it with some sort of dynamics.
Anyway, the code is distributed under an open-source licence, the GNU GPL, that allows you to borrow any code you can use (just make sure you understand the GPL if you have plans to re-distribute it).
Even if the code is not suited to your needs, there may be ideas that you can adapt to your own implementation. I will gladly answer any questions you have about why I made architecture and design choices.
The URL is
http://rossum.sourceforge.net/sim /
Good luck on your endeavor.
Gary
Mecha wrote:

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Thanks Gray,
But I think i am working in some different direction. My main mission is to ease the visulization of ones future bot. I have gone through the link posted that was indeed of great help for programmer of a bot, the difference betyween the ideas would be as one will be a post construction simulation sofware while the other is a pre construction sofware simulator, and combining both of them will result robots in days rather then in weeks or months...:)
Thanks for the input.
Regards,
Umar Inam
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Mecha wrote:

I agree that the two projects represent much different kinds of applications. The feature of RP1 that I thought might have some relevance to your simulation is the general approach to managing time, concurrency, and event scheduling. An application that combines analysis and animation, or any kind of discrete-event simulation, will eventually have to implement some kind of scheduler. I think that this particlar part of the problem sometimes get overlooked when people are just starting out on a simulation project and I wanted to point it out.
Gary
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You might consider adding your features to an existing CAD or simulation package.
Solidworks (a very advanced parametric modeling program) has a personal learning edition, that is fully functional and can be renewed indefinitely? It is really a very nice way to allow people to learn the software and use for things like this. One particularly nice thing is the existing library of parts available that can be downloaded and added to a design inside solidworks. Perhaps your program can concentrate on writing an add-on program to Solidworks to make it do what you want to do. http://www.solidworks.com
I will also mention another program, which has mechanical dynamics already. It is CADSM, and is only $25 (and even free for students). I know he recently created the ability to import 3d DXF files. Perhaps you can work with him to make your program work with his. http://www.askoh.com
Joe Dunfee
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