Saturday, May 29, 2021

Three Year Anniversary

As of May 27th, this Totally Not Evil Robot Army Blog, is three years old.

in the last 12 months, the blog has had over 31,000 views. and for all time about 45,000. Perhaps the global lockdowns have created a few more page hits. This year, over 50% of the page hits have come from Hong Kong, and another 10% from Indonesia. Perhaps a new robot hot spot?

It is clear that many russian website have been linked to mine. They are trying to create a web of references to increase the search engine optimization for their own customers pages.  However, I delete these messages as soon as they arrive, but that does not keep the internet-troll-robots from linking to me.

There are now ~80 blog posts on the record. The most popular pages are still related to Mojo the robot dog. Specifically, the discussion on alternative leg designs. I am hoping someone can make some good use out of this.

For the past year, the focus has been on two robot designs.  Tilt! is a balancing robot and Milli is a millipede robot with a special metachronal rhythm. Like most of my robots, i run through multiple design iterations, typically leaving projects open for future insight or development. This is certainly true with the last robots. Tilt! does actually work, but is not stable (ha ha) due to belt slippage. And Milli or WildWorm is also working but has some torque issues.  Both robots will use my new gear box design and portable power.

Sprinkled in with the robot development is some observations from the internets and humor where it can be found.  Enjoy and let me know what you think in the comments.


Düsseldorf Doug

Monday, May 24, 2021

Desert Robot Project


Sonoran Desert - Arizona, USA

My new objective for remote robot exploration in collaboration with Patterntology

Exploring Robots:  Desert Robot Project

Living in the desert, watching what is going on around. An Internet <=> Reality interface/portal. It is a true remote sensing platform that is self-sustaining. It needs protection from the harsh elements of sun, rain, dust, and animals. It has to have the right scale to move and manipulate. but most of all it has to have the ability to see and sense and to communicate this back to the digital world.

This post is a collection of thoughts on what a Desert Robot could potentially be.


It will be a remote sensing platform, with the ability to move, manipulate, and communicate. This is the basic function of all of the probs we have sent to planets, asteroids, and space. But, these robot will be for earth.

It is clear that all Exploring Robots will have the common requirements of:

  • Sense the Environment (vision,hear, temp, smell, feel, etc)
  • Manipulate the environment (possibly)
  • Move (preferably)
  • Communicate its finding, take commands
  • Process the above, as well as manage itself
  • Power: preferably renewable and storable, and portable
finally, all of the other requirements are all about surviving in the environment they are destined for.


outside of the primary functions, the non-functional requirement is to survive. It needs to survive the punishing environment that is not particularly kind to electro-mechanical systems.

Desert Robot surviving means managing these aspects:

  • Intense Sunlight, Ultraviolet and Infrared Radiation
  • Heat in excess of 45c, or below freezing
  • Dust and Sand
  • Rain, monsoon flooding, potential immersion
  • Desert animals - PackRats!  Insects and critters
  • People - that want to abscond with our dear robot


Shape - the robot could perhaps be some robotic cross between a tortoise and a crab. It would need a hard outer shell for protection and to encapsulate the internal electronics. The bottom would need to be smooth, like a tortoise so that it could slide over rocks and obstacles. A bio-inspired outer shell would be ideal for protecting the primary components.

Mobility - choices on types of movement would need to be adjusted by how far and over what terrain is planned. For the first iterations, I am considering that the robot should be able to move and manipulate, but that it would not travel over long distances. Being constrained to just a few dozen of square meters would allow the focus to be on desert wildlife instead of unexplored terrain or vistas. If this is the case, it would be possible to use some small legs that could drag the robot, instead of wheels or treads. small, stout legs can be implemented with a few simple servos and would not require a large power source.

Scale - how large should this robot be?  That would be a function of the energy budget available and what obstacles it would need to overcome.  On the desert floor in the Sonoran Desert, for example, there are many branches from plants and cactus that would need to be maneuvered around.  The size of the solar panels needed for operations and communications would also need to be considered.

What other design considerations should be made for a Desert Robot?

Please leave your thoughts and questions in the comments section below.