Department of Robotics 


Department Mobile Robots

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Robot Hercules


Reconnaissance and emergency four-wheeled mobile robot.

Hercules – photo gallery (34)

Hercules – video 1

Hercules – video 2

Basic parameters

Chassis: four-wheeled, independent suspension of all wheels
Steering: steerable rear axle (Ackermann)
Drive: driven front axle with differential
Arm: 3 degrees of freedom (rotations) + gripper
Motors: - DC motor for drive
- servo for steering
- 3 Maxon EC motors for the arm
- DC motor for the gripper
Sensors: - distance-measuring LASER sensor on the arm
- incremental position sensors in the arm motors
- resistance thermometer
- Dräger X-am 5000 gas detector
- stereovision camera head on the arm
- rear camera on the chassis
Control system: remote wireless control of all functions from a PC
Data transmission: - Radiocrafts RC1280HP (868 MHz) for driving
- Wi-Fi (2.4 GHz) for camera pictures (TCP)
- Wi-Fi (2.4 GHz) for arm control and sensors data (UDP)
Dimensions: - chassis:990 x 710 x 675 mm
- arm links lengths: 450 mm, 860 mm (reach 1390 mm)
Weight: 165 kg (140 kg chassis + 25 kg arm)
Max. load: 115 kg chassis; 1.1 kg arm

Robot description

Chassis of this mobile robot comes from an electric wheelchair InvaCare, mechanically modified on the department to allow placement of additional electronic and attachment of the manipulator arm. Thanks to the use of a highly optimised commercial chassis, the locomotory subsystem of the robot has excellent parameters (battery capacity, load, range of speeds, power, manoeuvrability). It turned out to be not really easy to control the functions of the chassis (power, speed switching, driving, steering) remotely from a computer – the original control system of the wheelchair is based on a proprietary and closed CAN-type bus with unknown protocol. The final solution was to completely replace the driving electronics, so now all the driving functions can be controlled remotely from a custom control application.

The manipulator arm was completely designed and realised by the department. One of the primary requirements because of the circumstances was as low manufacture complexity as possible (to cut both the manufacture time and costs). That’s why for example all three driving units are identical, regardless the lower load of some joints. Simplicity of the construction brought also other benefits, especially almost zero mechanical looseness and thus it is possible to perform very accurate and fine movements. The manipulator has 3 degrees of freedom; all joints are powered by disc electromotors MAXON ES90F 60 W with harmonic gearboxes. The low-level control is provided by Maxon EPOS units interconnected via a CAN bus.

The manipulator is currently equipped with a simple two-jaw gripper with adjustable gripping force (7 levels in each direction).

The robot contains a stereovision camera head located on the last link of the arm. This location allows the camera to watch the object of manipulation or to look around while driving or watching the environment. Between the cameras is a LASER distance sensor with 25 m range. There is also a third camera at the rear of the chassis, for navigation when driving backwards.

It is possible to control the robot remotely from an operator’s station (suitcase) containing all the necessary electronics, an accumulator, transmission devices and a notebook with touch screen. All robot functions are integrated into one user-friendly application and can be controlled using a wireless gamepad. Important information is displayed directly over the camera image, additional functions and data are shown on the right-hand panel. The operator can also use 3D glasses for stereovision.

There are two minicomputers on the robot (Via EPIS and Asus EEE netbook); one of them is running a server application controlling the arm movements and processing sensor signals and the other one is running an application acquiring and compressing camera pictures. Both these applications communicate with a client application (the operator’s station) via Wi-Fi. Driving signals are transmitted by radio because of its better reliability in buildings.

The robot also contains a thermometer to measure temperature around the robot and a gas detector Dräger X-am 5000, which can be equipped with up to 5 sensors for different gas types. Data from the detector and thermometer are of course also transmitted to the operator’s station and displayed on the screen.

Since 2010, the robot could be seen every year on the largest air, army and security show in cental Europe – Nato Days in Ostrava, where has been one of the most popular attractions on the stand of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering (Department of Robotics).

© Department of Robotics 2008-2018, Tomáš Kot

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