Students of VIT University in Vellore have developed an autonomous robot that can climb up and down the stairs. The students hope that it can be used to deliver packages in multi-storey buildings.
Multi-storey office buildings require a number of human couriers to transfer files and packages. Using a robot to perform this task would reduce the cost of operation of businesses housed in such buildings.
The students said that it was a challenge to build a robot that can climb up and down the stairs without falling while simultaneously following a line on the floor for guidance.
Final year project students at VIT University Ayush Kumar from the school of electrical engineering and Pallavi Bhamare from the school of electronic engineering developed the robot under the guidance of faculty member Mathew Mithra Noel.
“Our caterpillar robot has been designed to climb the stairs by employing an artificial neural network (ANN)-based design. ANNs are simplified models of the human nervous system that can learn an arbitrary mapping between inputs and outputs,” said Kumar.
Pallavi said, “In this case, an ANN in the robot learned the mapping between its sensor inputs and control decisions (left, right and straight ahead) from a human trainer to smoothly follow curves and climb stairs.”
Built at a cost of Rs 25,000 with an additional Rs 12,000 for manufacturing, the robot is based on a supervised model. “So, the robot was trained to follow a white line track. It is energy efficient and takes about 15 cm steps and can easily carry a load of 1.5kg,” said Noel. The robot is 55cm tall and 18cm in breadth.
VIT chancellor G Viswanathan said that the university encouraged its students to invent, innovate and become entrepreneurs.