Autonomous Robot Part 2 – Waddle

Jake Scherlis- Designer, Vivian Qiu-Integrator, Myles Blodnick-Tutor, Scribe


Waddle is a robot that explores the idea of an autonomous entity with an inherent personality achieved through different behaviors triggered by a variety of stimuli. Originally intended to embody an anthropomorphic form, Waddle evolved to become a quirky robot with movements reminiscent of a duck. After exploring the wide range of potential behaviors achieved through the design of the robot, we decided to match the robot’s movement to its lovability. As a result, Waddle is a dancing robot that exhibits its ability to dance in the presence of music.

Fabrication Design

The robot’s mechanical structure is adapted from an online video. Waddle has been adapted to have a completely redesigned frame to achieve a wider range of motion, durability, and precision, but most importantly an entertaining and identifiable behavior. This personality is achieved through sensing two types of stimulus with proximity sensors and sound sensors. In this iteration, Waddle exhibits an engaging reaction to music or sound, while navigating throughout its environment to avoid collision.

Waddle’s mechanical structure is a refined result of three completed prototypes that led to a final design with the most mobility as well as smoothest range of motion in both its gait and its dance. Challenges in previous iterations include finding the correct counterweight to counteract the robot’s constantly shifting center of gravity from step to step, maintaining the structural rigidity in parts of the frame while allowing for movement in others, packaging electronics without interfering with the robot’s movement, and finding appropriate mounting mechanisms.

Technical Notes

The technical aspects of this project can be addressed in two aspects: the hardware and software components. To detail the former, three servos were utilized, two that act as the left and right feet and the third as a balancing mechanism. An Arduino Uno was utilized as the microprocessor along with two sensors, a sound sensor and a distance sensor. A mini protoboard was utilized to connect the power to the servos and sensor. The main power source for this iteration was a USB due to complications in battery powering, which will be solved by the next deliverable. On the software side, the algorithm for walking was heavily adjusted through design and many tweaks, which this class is referring to as iterations, to account for the new fabrication of Waddle. The walking formula is significantly different from the first iteration. In addition, sound sensors were now utilized. Whenever sound levels surpass a certain threshold, Waddle will trigger a dancing sequence. This needs to be fine-tuned more for the next iteration, but accomplishes the task of creating a behavior that facilitates some component of human interaction as of now . A distance sensor was utilized, but the functionality was not complete enough for this iteration and will be developed more for the next prototype.