By Christine Young, Blogger, Maxim Integrated

Self-Balancing Robot

At the White House Maker Faire 2014, then President Obama noted that “new tools and technologies are making the building of things easier than ever. There is a democratization of manufacturing that is potentially available because of technology.” Indeed, the technology resources available are making it a little easier to turn creative ideas into working prototypes. Including ideas such as self-balancing robots.

One of Maxim’s engineers used a featherboard to build a self-balancing robot—a project he had long wanted to tackle. Justin Jordan needed to write some example code for the Bosch Sensortec BMI160 inertial measurement unit (IMU) on Maxim’s MAX32630FTHR board. Given this project, he jumped at the chance to build his own self-balancing robot.

First, Jordan configured the on-board IMU, which estimates a pitch angle from vertical to help the robot stay straight. Anytime the robot starts drifting from the vertical point, the control loop directs the DC motors to keep the robot’s base under its center of gravity. The IMU samples data from the accelerometer/gyroscope, running this information through a complementary filter to produce an estimated feedback signal (providing the estimated pitch of the robot at a given time) for the control loop.

Featherboard Full of Functionality

Maxim designed theMAX32630FTHR board to help engineers quickly implement battery-optimized solutions with the MAX32630 ARM® Cortex®-M4F microcontroller. The microcontroller features a floating-point unit, performing calculations quickly in hardware to generate pitch estimates. The board includes many other resources to support fast proofs-of-concept and early software development of applications such as fitness monitors, portable medical devices, sensor hubs, sports watches, wearable medical patches and, of course, robots.

To learn more about Jordan’s self-balancing robot project, and to see video of the bot, read “Building a Self-Balancing Robot with Feature-Rich Featherboard.”

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