GB2533314A - Modular robotic system - Google Patents

Modular robotic system Download PDF

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Publication number
GB2533314A
GB2533314A GB1422320.0A GB201422320A GB2533314A GB 2533314 A GB2533314 A GB 2533314A GB 201422320 A GB201422320 A GB 201422320A GB 2533314 A GB2533314 A GB 2533314A
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United Kingdom
Prior art keywords
component
forth
blocks
command
slave
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Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
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GB1422320.0A
Inventor
Tokarev Vladimir
Kumar Pasunooru Prabodh
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Indybo Ltd
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Indybo Ltd
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Priority to GB1422320.0A priority Critical patent/GB2533314A/en
Publication of GB2533314A publication Critical patent/GB2533314A/en
Withdrawn legal-status Critical Current

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Classifications

    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B25HAND TOOLS; PORTABLE POWER-DRIVEN TOOLS; MANIPULATORS
    • B25JMANIPULATORS; CHAMBERS PROVIDED WITH MANIPULATION DEVICES
    • B25J9/00Programme-controlled manipulators
    • B25J9/08Programme-controlled manipulators characterised by modular constructions
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63HTOYS, e.g. TOPS, DOLLS, HOOPS OR BUILDING BLOCKS
    • A63H33/00Other toys
    • A63H33/04Building blocks, strips, or similar building parts
    • A63H33/042Mechanical, electrical, optical, pneumatic or hydraulic arrangements; Motors
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B25HAND TOOLS; PORTABLE POWER-DRIVEN TOOLS; MANIPULATORS
    • B25JMANIPULATORS; CHAMBERS PROVIDED WITH MANIPULATION DEVICES
    • B25J9/00Programme-controlled manipulators
    • B25J9/0003Home robots, i.e. small robots for domestic use
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B25HAND TOOLS; PORTABLE POWER-DRIVEN TOOLS; MANIPULATORS
    • B25JMANIPULATORS; CHAMBERS PROVIDED WITH MANIPULATION DEVICES
    • B25J9/00Programme-controlled manipulators
    • B25J9/0009Constructional details, e.g. manipulator supports, bases

Abstract

A modular robotic system comprises a number of component pieces or blocks 400 each including means 402, 404 for making mechanical and data/electrical connections to other blocks. The blocks include microcontrollers for communicating data between blocks, and a programming interface for sending commands between blocks. Preferably the blocks mechanically connect by relative rotation via co-operating flanges. In a preferred embodiment at least one master block sends operational commands to slave blocks. The programming interface may be provided on a master block, or may be provided as a user interface on a user device such as a tablet computer (see figure 13). The programming interface preferably allows the commands to be generated by selecting or otherwise manipulating graphical icons. The blocks allow structures such as vehicles to be built and controlled (see figures 15 & 16).

Description

MODULAR ROBOTIC SYSTEM
TECHNICAL FIELD
[0001]The present disclosure generally relates to a robotic system; and more specifically, to assembling and programming a modular robot.
BACKGROUND
[0002]The use of improved technology can be seen in almost all fields. One such example relates to a playing pattern of today's children playing with a robot toy. Typically, such robot toy includes different kinds of sensors, motors, servos, power supply, and controllers. Further, such robot toy can be a monolithic structure or modular in nature; and adapted to be programmed to have different functional aspects and movement patterns. Therefore, when children play with such robot toy it may contribute to their mental growth and develop their appreciation for various aspects of robot technology.
[0003]Typically, conventional robot toys require users to learn details related to assembling such robot toy, assembly language to program such robot toy and the like. However, the conventional programming environment is incomprehensible for younger children (for example pre-pubescent). Further, children belonging to this age group generally have a short attention span making teaching such programming more difficult.
[0004]Some robot toys focus on teaching the basics of programming to children with a pre-built robot, but this does not allow children to build or design their own robots. Moreover, if children want to go beyond very basic programming environment, it becomes necessary to learn a much more complicated programming environment. Additionally, some conventional modular robots allow children to build custom robots with modular blocks but have very limited control interfaces that are ineffective for teaching programming of such modular robots. Moreover, to connect the modular blocks to each other, generally different types of connectors such as inserts or tabs, small steel magnetic balls and like are used, These are easily lost, may not provide firm coupling and are difficult to handle.
[0005]Therefore, in light of the foregoing discussion, there exists a need to overcome the aforementioned drawbacks of a modular robot.
SUMMARY
[0006]In one aspect, an embodiment of the present disclosure provides a robot assembly system. The robot assembly system comprises a plurality of component pieces. Each of the plurality of component pieces includes at least one mechanical connector provided to an exterior facet of each component piece such that each component piece is capable of mechanical coupling with one or more other component pieces. Further, each of the plurality of component pieces includes at least one signal 1 connector extending from an interior to enable electrical communication, data communication or both between component pieces connected by way of the mechanical connectors. Moreover, each of the plurality of component pieces includes a microcontroller operatively coupled with the at least one signal connector to communicate data between two or more of the component pieces. The robot assembly system further comprises a programming interface configured to command one or more of a variety of communications between component pieces coupled by one or more of the at least one signal connector.
[0007]Optionally, the mechanical connectors are configured to couple two or more component pieces in response to relative rotation between the two or more contacting 20 component pieces.
[0008]Also, the mechanical connectors comprise a plurality of inwardly-directed flanges and a plurality of outwardly-directed flanges configured such that upon relative rotation of a second component piece relative to a first component piece with at least one inwardly-directed flange of the first component piece positioned adjacent to at least one outwardly-directed flange of the second component piece, the at least one outwardly directed flange engages with the at least one inwardly-directed flange to removably lock the first and second component pieces together.
[0009] More optionally, the signal connectors further comprises spring-loaded contact pins.
[0010]Further, a plurality of the spring-loaded contact pins are arranged in one or more lines radiating from or near a centre of the exterior facet towards a perimeter of the exterior facet.
[0011]Optionally, relative rotation of first and second contacting component pieces is 5 configured to move the spring-loaded contact pins of the second component into and out of engagement with the spring-loaded contact pins of the first component piece.
[0012]Further, the programming interface is configured to present a plurality of command icons each representing a command causing transmission of one of the variety of communications between coupled component pieces.
[0013]Optionally, the plurality of command icons are configured to transition between inactive and executable states in response to user input through the programming interface.
[0014]Further, the user input in response to which the plurality of command icons transition between inactive and executable states includes dragging of the command 15 icons within the programming interface between a command icon glossary and a command assembly grid.
[0015]Optionally, the a plurality of command icons assembled within the command grid comprise a command program which, when executed, causes transmission of electrical communications and data communications through a plurality of the component pieces to energize one or more of the microcontrollers to perform one or more commands represented by the assembled command icons.
[0016]Further, at least one of the plurality of component pieces includes an ultrasonic transducer configured to determine distance between the at least one of the plurality of component pieces relative to surroundings.
[0017] Moreover, the at least one of the plurality of component pieces includes a power source.
[0018]Also, the at least one of the plurality of component pieces includes an array of light-emitting diodes at the exterior facet thereof.
[0019]Further, the at least one of the plurality of component pieces includes a motor.
[0020]Optionally, the motor is configured to rotate the exterior facet relative to an interior of the at least one of the plurality of component pieces.
[0021]Also, the at least one of the plurality of component pieces includes a servo.
[0022]Optionally, the robot assembly system further comprises an adapter plate including at least one inwardly-facing flange and at least one outwardly-facing flange on a first surface and an array of pins extending from a second surface.
[0023]Further, each component piece includes a bus implementing 12C protocols to enable communicative coupling between one or more component pieces.
[0024]Optionally, at least one component piece takes a cubic shape.
[0025]Further, each of the component pieces comprises a plurality of exterior facets each including at least one of the mechanical connectors.
[0026]Optionally, the robot assembly system further comprises a wheel including one or more flanges configured for engagement with at least one of the at least one outwardly-directed flanges and the at least one inwardly-directed flanges.
[0027]In another aspect, an embodiment of the present disclosure provides a modular robotic system. The modular robotic system comprises a plurality of slave component blocks configured for mutual mechanical engagement through mating flanges in response to relative rotation of the slave component blocks and for mutual electrical engagement through mating spring-loaded contact pins. The modular robotic system also comprises at least one master component block configured for mechanical engagement with one or more of the slave component blocks through mating flanges in response to relative rotation and for electrical engagement with one or more of the slave component blocks through mating spring-loaded contact pins. The modular robotic system further comprises computer readable program code recorded to a memory component of a user electronic device, which program code, when executed by a processor of the user electronic device is configured to generate a virtual guide to interact with a user in real-time to present robot designs comprised of one or more of the slave component blocks and one or more of the master component block and to present the user with information regarding functionality of the slave component blocks and the master component blocks. The modular robotic system also comprises computer readable program code recorded to the memory of the user electronic device, which program code, when executed by the processor of the user electronic 5 device is configured to generate a programming interface to present a user with a plurality of command icons each representing a command which, when associated with a plurality of other command icons, provides a command program which, when executed by the master component block, causes transmission of a series of the commands from the master component block to a plurality of the slave component to blocks to energize one or more of the slave component blocks to perform one or more commands represented by the assembled command icons.
[0028]Optionally, the mating flanges comprise a plurality of inwardly-directed flanges and a plurality of outwardly-directed flanges configured such that upon relative rotation of a second component block relative to a first component block with at least one inwardly-directed flange of the first component block positioned adjacent to at least one outwardly-directed flange of the second component block, the at least one outwardly directed flange engages with the at least one inwardly-directed flange to removably lock the first and second component blocks together.
[0029]Further, relative rotation of first and second contacting component blocks is 20 configured to move the spring-loaded contact pins of the second component block into and out of engagement with the spring-loaded contact pins of the first component block.
[0030]Optionally, the plurality of command icons are configured to transition between inactive and executable states in response to user input through the programming interface.
[0031]Further, the user input in response to which the plurality of command icons transition between inactive and executable states includes dragging of the command icons within the programming interface between a command icon glossary and a command assembly grid.
[0032]Optionally, at least one of the plurality of slave component blocks includes an ultrasonic transducer configured to determine position of the at least one of the plurality of slave component blocks relative to surroundings.
[0033]Further, the at least one of the plurality of slave component blocks includes a 5 power source.
[0034]Moreover, the at least one of the plurality of slave component blocks includes an array of light-emitting diodes at the exterior facet thereof.
[0035]Also, the at least one of the plurality of slave component blocks includes a motor.
[0036]Further, the wherein at least one of the plurality of slave component blocks includes a servo.
[0037]Optionally, the modular robotic system further comprises an adapter plate including at least one flange configured to engage with at least one of the inwardly-facing flanges and outwardly-facing flanges of the component blocks and an array of pins extending from a second surface and configured to engage with one or more foreign objects.
[0038]In yet another aspect, an embodiment of the present disclosure provides a modular robotic system. The modular robotic system comprises a plurality of slave component blocks configured for mutual mechanical engagement through mating flanges in response to relative rotation of the slave component blocks and for mutual electrical engagement through mating spring-loaded contact pins. The modular robotic system also comprises at least one master component block configured for mechanical engagement with one or more of the slave component blocks through mating flanges in response to relative rotation and for electrical engagement with one or more of the slave component blocks through mating spring-loaded contact pins. The modular robotic system further comprises computer readable program code recorded to a memory of the at least one master component block, which program code, when executed by a microprocessor of the at least one master component block, is configured to generate a programming interface to present a user with a plurality of command icons each representing a command which, when associated with a plurality of other command icons, provides a command program which, when executed by the master component block, causes transmission of a series of the commands from the master component block to a plurality of the slave component blocks energize one or more of the slave component blocks to perform one or more commands represented by the assembled command icons.
[0039]Optionally, the mating flanges comprise a plurality of inwardly-directed flanges and a plurality of outwardly-directed flanges configured such that upon relative rotation of a second component block relative to a first component block with at least one inwardly-directed flange of the first component block positioned adjacent to at least one outwardly-directed flange of the second component block, the at least one outwardly directed flange engages with the at least one inwardly-directed flange to removably lock the first and second component blocks together.
[0040]Further, relative rotation of first and second contacting component blocks is configured to move the spring-loaded contact pins of the second component block into and out of engagement with the spring-loaded contact pins of the first component 15 block.
[0041]Optionally, the plurality of command icons are configured to transition between inactive and executable states in response to user input through the programming interface.
[0042]Further, the user input in response to which the plurality of command icons 20 transition between inactive and executable states includes dragging of the command icons within the programming interface between a command icon glossary and a command assembly grid.
[0043]Optionally, the at least one of the plurality of slave component blocks includes an ultrasonic transducer configured to determine position of the at least one of the plurality of slave component blocks relative to surroundings.
[0044]Further, the at least one of the plurality of slave component blocks includes a power source.
[0045]Moreover, the at least one of the plurality of slave component blocks includes an array of light-emitting diodes at the exterior facet thereof.
[0046]Also, the at least one of the plurality of slave component blocks includes a motor.
[0047]Further, the at least one of the plurality of slave component blocks includes a servo.
[0048]Optionally, the modular robotic system further comprises an adapter plate including at least one flange configured to engage with at least one of the inwardly-facing flanges and outwardly-facing flanges of the component blocks and an array of pins extending from a second surface and configured to engage with one or more foreign objects.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES
[0049]The summary above, as well as the following detailed description of illustrative embodiments, is better understood when read in conjunction with the appended drawings. For the purpose of illustrating the present disclosure, example constructions of the disclosure are shown in the drawings. However, the present disclosure is not limited to specific methods and instrumentalities disclosed herein. Moreover, those in the art will understand that the drawings are not to scale. Wherever possible, like elements have been indicated by identical numbers.
[0050]Embodiments of the present disclosure will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the following diagrams wherein: [0051]FIG. 1 is a schematic illustration of an example environment that is suitable for practicing an embodiment of the present disclosure; [0052]FIG. 2 is a schematic illustration of various components in a user electronic device associated with the example environment of FIG. 1, in accordance with an embodiment of the present disclosure; [0053] FIGS. 3A-3B are schematic illustration of various elements of component pieces associated with the example environment of FIG. 1, in accordance with an embodiment of the present disclosure; [0054]FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a component piece of a modular robotic system, in accordance with an embodiment of the present disclosure; [0055]FIG. 5 is a perspective view of an exterior facet of the component piece of FIG. 4, in accordance with an embodiment of the present disclosure; [0056]FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a signal connector of the component piece of FIG. 4, in accordance with an embodiment of the present disclosure; [0057]FIG. 7-10 are perspective views of slave component pieces of the modular robotic system, in accordance with various embodiments of the present disclosure; [0058]FIG. 11 is a perspective view of a wheel for the modular robotic system, in 10 accordance with an embodiment of the present disclosure; [0059]FIG. 12 is a schematic illustration of a virtual guide to be presented on the user device of FIG. 1, in accordance with an embodiment of the present disclosure; [0060]FIG. 13 is a schematic illustration of a programming interface to be presented on the user device of FIG. 1, in accordance with an embodiment of the present 15 disclosure; [0061]FIG. 14 is a perspective view of an adaptor for a foreign object to be used in conjunction with the environment of FIG. 1, in accordance with an embodiment of the present disclosure; [0062]FIGS. 15-16 are perspective views of a modular robot, in accordance with 20 various embodiments of the present disclosure; [0063]FIGS. 17-18 are schematic illustration of an example environment suitable for practicing another embodiments of the present disclosure; [0064]FIG. 19 is a schematic illustration of a flow diagram depicting various steps of a method for assembling a modular robot, in accordance with an embodiment of the
present disclosure; and
[0065]FIG. 20 is a schematic illustration of a flow diagram depicting various steps of a method for programming a modular robot, in accordance with an embodiment of the present disclosure.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION
[0066]The following detailed description illustrates embodiments of the present disclosure and manners by which they can be implemented. Although the best mode of carrying out the present disclosure has been disclosed, those skilled in the art would recognize that other embodiments for carrying out or practicing the present disclosure are also possible.
[0067]It should be noted that the terms "first", "second", and the like, herein do not denote any order, quantity, or importance, but rather are used to distinguish one element from another. Further, the terms "a" and "an" herein do not denote a limitation of quantity, but rather denote the presence of at least one of the referenced item.
[0068] Referring now to the drawings, particularly by their reference numbers, FIG. 1 is a schematic illustration of an example environment 100 that is suitable for practicing an embodiment of the present disclosure. The environment 100 includes a plurality of component pieces, such as component pieces 102a, 102b, 102c and 102d (hereinafter collectively referred to as component pieces 102). The environment 100 also includes a user electronic device 110 and a server 120 communicably coupled to the user electronic device 110 using a communication network 130. The user electronic device 110 is further communicably coupled to one of the plurality of component pieces, such as the component piece 102a, using a communication network 132.
[0069]In the present embodiment, the environment 100 is associated with various 25 aspects of a modular robot. For example, the environment 100 can be associated with a robotic assembly system, a robotic programming system and a modular robot itself (which is explained in greater detail herein later). Therefore, in the present embodiment, the component pieces 102 (shown in FIG. 1) are robot modules adapted to be operatively coupled to each other (to constitute an operational modular robot) 30 based on the environment 100.
[0070]Further, in the present embodiment, the server 120 stores and is operable to communicate one or more software products, such as a software product 140, associated with assembling the component pieces 102 and programming the assembled component pieces 102. The server 120 is operable to start a communication with the user electronic device 110, when the user electronic device requests to access the server 120 to download the software product 140. The software product 140 is downloaded in the user electronic device 110, thereafter a processor of the user electronic device 110 executes the software product 140 to provide a virtual guide for assembling the component pieces 102 and a programming to interface for programming the assembled component pieces 102, explained in greater detail herein later.
[0071]The software product 140 is downloaded into the user electronic device 110 from the server 120 using the communication network 130. The communication network 130 can be a collection of interconnected individual networks functioning as a single large network. Such individual networks may be wired, wireless, or a combination thereof. Examples of such individual networks include, but are not limited to, Local Area Networks (LANs), Wide Area Networks (WANs), Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs), Wireless LANs (WLANs), Wireless WANs (WWANs), Wireless MANs (WMANs), the Internet, second generation (2G) telecommunication networks, third generation (3G) telecommunication networks, fourth generation (4G) telecommunication networks, and Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX) networks.
[0072]Further, in the present embodiment, the communication network 132 (communicably coupling the user electronic device 110 with the component piece 102a) may include a wireless communication network. For example, the communication network 132 may include but is not limited to WIFI, WIMAX, BLUETOOTH, infrared, infrared data association (IRDA), near field communications (NEC), RF, and the like.
[0073]Referring now to FIG. 2, illustrated is a schematic illustration of various 30 components of the user electronic device 110 associated with the environment 100 of FIG. 1, in accordance with an embodiment of the present disclosure. The various components of user electronic device 110 include but is not limited to a data memory 202, a computing hardware such as a processor 204, Input/Output (I/O) devices 206, a network interface 208 and a system bus 210 that operatively couples various components, i.e. the data memory 202, the processor 204, the I/O devices 206 and the network interface 208. In an embodiment, the I/O devices 206 include a display screen for presenting graphical interfaces (such as the virtual guide or the programming interface) to a user (for example a child) of the user electronic device 110. The user electronic device 110 also includes a power source (not shown) for supplying electrical power to the various components of the user electronic device 110. The power source can be, for example, a rechargeable battery.
[0074]Based on the above, the user electronic device 110 can include, but is not limited to, mobile phones, smart telephones, Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs), tablet computers, Ultra-Mobile Personal Computers (UMPCs), phablet computers, Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs), web pads, Personal Computers (PCs), handheld PCs, laptop computers, desktop computers, Network-Attached Storage (NAS) devices, large-sized touch screens with embedded PCs, and interactive entertainment devices, such as game consoles, Television (TV) sets and Set-Top Boxes (STBs).
[0075]In one embodiment, at least one of the component pieces 102 is configured as a master component and the remaining may be configured as salve components. For example, the component piece 102a is configured to be a master component piece, which is primarily operable to communicate electrical communication, data communication or both to the operatively connected slave component pieces 102b, 102c and 102d.
[0076]Referring now to FIG. 3A, illustrated is a schematic illustration of various elements of a master component piece 102a associated with the environment 100 of FIG. 1, in accordance with an embodiment of the present disclosure. In an embodiment, the master component piece 102a includes at least one mechanical connector 302a, at least one signal connector 304a and a microcontroller 306a. The at least one mechanical connector 302a is provided to an exterior facet 310a of the master component piece 102a such that the master component piece 102a is capable of mechanical coupling with one or more other component pieces, such as the slave component pieces 102b, 102c and 102d (FIG. 1). The at least one signal connector 304a extends from an interior 312a to enable electrical communication, data communication or both between the master component piece 102a connected by way of the mechanical connector 302a. The microcontroller 306a is operatively coupled with the at least one signal connector 304a to communicate data between the salve component pieces 102b, 102c and 102d (FIG. 1). The master component piece 102a further includes a bus 320a operatively coupling the at least one signal connector 304a and the microcontroller 306a. In an embodiment, the bus 320a implements 12C protocols to enable communicative coupling between the master component piece 102a and the salve component pieces 102b, 102c and 102d (which will explained in greater detail herein later).
[0077]Referring now to FIG. 3B, illustrated is a schematic illustration of various components of a slave component piece 102b, in accordance with an embodiment of the present disclosure. As shown, the slave component piece 102b includes at least one mechanical connector 302b, at least one signal connector 304b and a microcontroller 306b. The slave component piece 102b also includes an at least one additional electro-mechanical element 308b, which includes but is not limited to a sensor, a power source, a light source, a sound source, a motor and a servo. The at least one additional electro-mechanical element 308b is operatively coupled to the microcontroller 306b. Further, in an embodiment, the microcontroller 306b is operatively coupled with the at least one signal connector 304b and the at least one additional electronic element 308b by buses 320b implementing 12C protocols.
[0078]The slave component piece 102b is primarily configured to function based on the at least one additional electro-mechanical element present therein and based on the communication provided by the master component piece 102a. For example, the slave component piece 102b may be configured to sense environmental conditions or may be configured to provide power, light, sound or movement based on the data communicated from the master component piece 102a. In such instance, the microcontroller 306b of the slave component piece 102b communicates with the microcontroller 306a of the master component piece 102a to receive such data for the operation thereof.
[0079] It is to be understood that, the salve component pieces 102c, 102d also includes similar components (at least one mechanical connector, at least one signal connector and a microcontroller) to those of the salve component piece 102b, but with different electro-mechanical elements. Therefore, the microcontroller 306c of the component piece 102a is operable to communicate with the microcontrollers of the slave component pieces (such as the component pieces 102b, 102c and 102d) for communicating at least the electrical communication and the data communication.
[0080] Referring now to FIG. 4, illustrated is a perspective view of a component piece 400 of a modular robotic system, in accordance with an embodiment of the present disclosure. According to an embodiment, FIG. 4 illustrates a perspective view of the component piece 400, which is master in nature, such as the master component piece 102a of FIG. 1. However, it is to be understood that the component piece 400 can be configured to be a salve based on the presence of an electronic element, such as the additional electro-mechanical element 308b (shown in FIG. 3B).
[0081]The component piece 400 includes at least one mechanical connector, such as mechanical connector 402, at least one signal connector, such as signal connectors 404, and a microcontroller (not visible, such as the microcontroller 306a shown in FIG. is 3A) arranged in an interior (such as the interior 112a shown in FIG. 3A) of the component piece component piece 400. The mechanical connectors 402 are provided at exterior facets 410 of the component piece 400. Further, the at least one signal connector 404 extends from the interior, particularly, through the exterior facets 410.
[0082]In one embodiment, the component piece 400 is configured to have a cubic shape. However, it may be evident to those skilled in the art that component piece 400 may be configured to have other shapes, such as that of a rectangular prisim, pyramid, hemisphere, frustocone or the like. For example, the component piece 400 may be configured to have at least few exterior facets, such as the exterior facets 410, which upon attaching constitutes a three-dimensional structure. Further, the exterior facets of the component piece 400 may be configured to have any other shape apart from square shape (as shown in FIG. 4), such as circular an oval or a polygonal shape.
[0083]A component piece having cubic shape can be referred to as a component block (i.e. the component piece 400 with a cubic shape). However, the term "component piece" may in general be referred to as a component piece having any shape 3-dimesional shape including cubic. Therefore, the terms "component piece" and "component block" is used interchangeably based on appropriate context.
[0084] Referring now to FIG. 5, illustrated is a perspective view of an exterior facet 410 of the component block 400, in accordance with an embodiment of the present disclosure. The component block 400 includes a plurality of such exterior facets 410, for example, as shown in FIG. 4 the component block 400 includes six such exterior facets 410. Further, each exterior facet includes at least one mechanical connector, such as the mechanical connectors 402.
[0085]The mechanical connector 402 includes a plurality of inwardly-directed flanges 502 and a plurality of outwardly-directed flanges 504. The mechanical connectors 402 are configured to couple two or more component blocks in response to relative rotation between the two or more contacting component blocks. For example, the plurality of inwardly-directed flanges 502 and the plurality of outwardly-directed flanges 504 are configured such that upon relatively rotating a second component block (such as another component block 400) relative to a first component block (such as the component block 400) with at least one inwardly-directed flange 502 of a first component block positioned adjacent to at least one outwardly-directed flange of a second component block the at least one outwardly directed flange will 504 engage with at least one inwardly-directed flange of the second component block to removably lock the first and second component blocks together.
[0086]The exterior facet 410 further includes a plurality of holes for accommodating or allowing the at least one signal connector 404 to extend through the exterior facet 410.
The exterior facet 410 includes a central hole 510, a first set of holes 512 radially configured on the exterior facet 410 and a second set of holes 514 radially configured on the outwardly directed flanges 504 of the mechanical connector 402. The exterior facet 410 also include connecting tabs 520 adapted to be connected to connecting tabs of other exterior facet (such as the exterior facet 410) to constitute the component block 400. The connecting tabs 520 may be self-connecting tabs configured to be coupled with each other or may otherwise be configured for coupling with each other with the help external aid, such as screws or bolts.
[0087] Referring now to FIG. 6, illustrated is a perspective view of the signal connector 30 404 of the component block 400, in accordance with an embodiment of the present disclosure. The signal connector 404 includes a base plate 602 configured to have circular shape. The base plate 602 may be configured to have other shape such as oval or polygonal shape. The signal connector 404 also includes a plurality of spring-loaded contact pins. For example, the signal connector 404 includes a central spring-loaded contact pin 610, a first set of contact pin 612 and a second set of spring-loaded contact pins 614. In the present embodiment, the first set of contact pins 612 may not be spring-loaded contact pins, however it may be evident to those skilled in the art that the first set of contact pins 612 can be configured to have spring-loaded construction.
[0088]As explained above, the exterior facet 410 includes a plurality of holes for accommodating or allowing the at least one signal connectors 404 to extend through the exterior facets 410. Specifically, the central hole 510, the first set of holes 512 and the second set of holes 514 are configured to receive the central spring-loaded contact pin 610, the first set of contact pins 612 and the second set of spring-loaded contact pins 614 there-through, respectively. Therefore, the plurality of the spring-loaded contact pins, such as the first set of contact pins 612 and the second set of spring-loaded contact pins 614, are arranged in one or more lines radiating from or near a centre of the exterior facet 410 towards a perimeter of the exterior facet 410 (as shown in FIG. 4).
[0089] It may be evident to those skilled in the art that a component block can include a specific number signal connectors based on nature (master or salve) of the component block and a number of exterior facets present in the component block. For example, the component block 400, which is master in nature, includes six exterior facets 410 with six signal connectors 404 extending there-through. However, a slave component block may include one or a few signal connectors based on the structural and functional character.
[0090]Referring now to FIGS. 7-10, illustrated are perspective views of slave component blocks (such as the component blocks 102b, 102c, 102d of FIG. 1) of the modular robotic system, in accordance with various embodiments of the present disclosure. For example, FIG. 7 illustrates a perspective view of a component block 700 which, by some schema, may be a salve component block. The component block 700 includes at least one mechanical connector, such mechanical connector 702, provided to exterior facets 710. The mechanical connectors 702 are capable of mechanically coupling with one or more other component blocks, for example with the help of the mechanical connectors 402 of the component block 400. The component block 700 also includes at least one signal connector, such as the signal connectors 704, extending from the exterior facets 710. The signal connectors 704 enables in electrical communication, data communication or both between the component block 700 and a component block with which it is connected, such as the component block 400. The component block 700 also includes a microcontroller (not visible) operatively coupled with the signal connectors 704 to communicate data between the component block 700 and the component block to which it is connected.
[0091]In one embodiment, the component block 700 further includes an ultrasonic transducer 720 arranged on an exterior facet 722. The ultrasonic transducer 720 is configured to determine distance between the at least one of the plurality of component blocks and surroundings. For example, when the component block 700 is coupled to the component block 400 and/or additional component blocks, the component block 700 is configured the sense or determine a distance between the connected component blocks and surrounding elements. Therefore, the component block 700, which may be salve in nature, is operable primarily for determining distance and is further adapted to communicate the determined distance to the master component block 400 for processing (explained in greater detail below). It is to be understood that, the salve component block 700 is adapted to receive electrical communication, data communication or both from the master component block 400, though the signal connectors 404 and 704.
[0092]Further, the signal connectors 404 and 704 are adapted to be operatively coupled with each other when component blocks 400, 700 are adapted to be coupled to each other with relative rotation between the mechanical connector 402, 702. The relative rotation between the component blocks 400, 700 is configured to move contact pins thereof into and out of engagement with each other. For example, the central spring-loaded contact pin 610 of the signal connector 404 would compress and contact a central spring-loaded contact pin of the signal connector 704. Whereas the first set of contact pins 612 of the signal connector 404 would compress and contact a second set of spring-loaded contact pins (such as the second set of spring-loaded contact pins 614) of the signal connector 704. Similarly, the second set of spring-loaded contact pins 614 of the signal connector 404 would compress and contact a first set of contact pins (such as the first set of contact pins 612) of the signal connector 704. This enables structural and functional coupling between the component blocks 400, 700 (which may be master and salve in nature respectively).
[0093]Referring now to FIG. 8, illustrated is a perspective view of another slave component block 800. The component block 800 includes at least one mechanical 5 connector, such mechanical connectors 802, provided to exterior facets 810. The component block 800 also includes at least one signal connector, such as the signal connectors 804, extending through the exterior facets 810. The component block 800 also includes a microcontroller (not visible) adapted to be operatively coupled with the signal connectors 804 to communicate data between the component block 800 and 10 other component blocks with which it is connected (such as the master component block 400).
[0094]In one embodiment, the component block 800 further includes an array of light-emitting diodes 820 at an exterior facet 822. For example, the array of light-emitting diodes 820 can be 9X9 array of light-emitting diodes. The array of light-emitting diodes 820 acts as light source to provide white light or coloured light. Specifically, the component block 800, which is salve in nature is primarily operable to act as light source, i.e. the array of light-emitting diodes 820 is adapted to glow (lighten up) based on the electrical communication and data communication to be provided by the master component block 400. The salve component block 700 is adapted to receive electrical communication and data communication from the master component block 400, though the signal connectors 404 and 804.
[0095] Referring now to FIG. 9, illustrated is a perspective view of a component block 900, which is also salve in nature. The component block 900 includes at least one mechanical connector, such mechanical connectors 902, provided at exterior facets 910. The component block 900 also includes at least one signal connector, such as the signal connectors 904, extending from the exterior facets 910. The component block 900 also includes a microcontroller (not visible) operatively coupled with the signal connectors 904 to communicate data between the component block 900 and other component blocks with which it is connected (such as the master component block 400).
[0096]In one embodiment, the component block 900 further includes a motor (not visible) arranged inside the component block 900. The motor is configured to rotate an exterior facet relative to an interior of the at least one of the plurality of component blocks. For example, the motor of the component block 900 is adapted to provide a rotary motion to rotate a component block with which it is connected (such as the component block 400, 700, 800) or any other additional component piece coupled to the component block 900.
[0097]In the present embodiment, the component block 900 further includes a rotary disc 920 arranged on a facet 922. The rotary disc 920 is operatively coupled to a shaft (not visible) of a motor (not visible) and adapted to be rotated by the motor's shaft. The rotary disc 920 includes a mechanical connector 930 and a signal connector 932 extending though the rotary disc 920. The mechanical connector 930 and signal connector 932 are functionally and structurally similar to the mechanical connector 902 and the signal connectors 904. Therefore, the rotary disc 920 is adapted to rotate a component block with which it is connected (such as the component block 700, 800) or any other additional component piece adapted to be coupled with the rotary disc 920. Further, the component block 900 is adapted to receive electrical communication and data communication from the master component block 400, though the signal connectors 404, 904.
[0098]According to another embodiment, the component block 900 includes a servo (not visible) arranged inside the component block 900. Specifically, the component block 900 includes the servo having a motor coupled to at least one sensor for position feedback, which enabels in precise control of angular position, velocity and acceleration of the motor's shaft. Therefore, the combination of the motor and at least one sensor constitute the servo. Further, in such instance, the rotary disc 920 is operatively coupled to a shaft of the servo and adapted to be rotated by the servo.
[0099] Referring now to FIG. 10, illustrated is a perspective view of a component block 1000, which may also be slave in nature. The component block 1000 includes at least one mechanical connector, such mechanical connectors 1002, provided to exterior facets 1010. The component block 1000 also includes at least one signal connector, such as the signal connectors 1004, extending from the exterior facets 1010. The component block 1000 also includes a m icrocontrol ler (not visible) operatively coupled with the signal connectors 1004 to communicate data between the component block 1000 and other component blocks with which it is connected (such as the component block 400).
[00100] In one embodiment, the component block 1000 further includes a power 5 source (not visible) arranged inside the component block 1000. The power source may take any of a variety of forms including but not limited to a rechargeable battery (such as a Lithium-ion based battery). The component block 1000 further has a start button 1020 arranged on the exterior facet 1022 and that turns on the battery in the power source. Further the component block 1000 may have a micro USB or similar 10 connection for connecting to the mains via an adaptor to re-charge in between times of use. In an alternative embodiment the component block 1000 may have a wireless charging option. The power source is adapted to provide electrical power to the other component blocks 400, 700, 800, 900. Further, the microcontroller of the component block 1000 is adapted to receive communication data from the master component block 400 to selectively provide and shut off electrical power to/from other salve component blocks 700, 800, 900.
[00101] Referring now to FIG. 11, illustrated is a perspective view of a wheel 1100 for the modular robotic system, in accordance with an embodiment of the present disclosure. The wheel 1100 includes a rim 1102, a plate hub 1104 and spokes 1106 connecting the rim 1102 and the plate 1104. The wheel 1100 also includes one or more slots or flanges 1108 arranged in or mounted on the plate 1104. The one or more slots or flanges 1108 may take any of a variety of forms and may be structurally similar to flanges of mechanical connector 402, of the component blocks. Therefore, the one or more slots or flanges 1108 are configured for engagement with at least one of the at least one outwardly-directed flanges 504 and the at least one inwardly-directed flanges 502 of a component block such as component block 400. In an example, the one or more slots or flanges 1108 of the wheel 1100 are configured to engage with the mechanical connector 930 of the rotary disc 920 of the component block 900, such that the wheel 1100 can be rotated with the shaft of the motor or the servo.
[00102]According to another embodiment, the modular robotic system may include other additional component pieces adapted to be engaged with the mechanical connector 930 of the rotary disc 920 including but not limited to fans, connecting arms, rotating arms and the like.
[00103]As explained above with respect to FIG. 1, the environment 100 can be associated with a robotic assembly system, a robotic programming system and a modular robot. Therefore, the plurality of slave component blocks (such as the slave component blocks 700, 800, 900, 1000) are configured for mutual mechanical engagement through mating flanges in response to relative rotation of the slave component blocks and for mutual electrical engagement through mating spring-loaded contact pins. Moreover, at least one master component block (such as the master component block 400) is configured for mechanical engagement with one or more of the slave component blocks through mating flanges in response to relative rotation and for electrical engagement with one or more of the slave component blocks through mating spring-loaded contact pins.
[00104]As explained above, the each component blocks 400, 700, 800, 900, 1000 is includes a bus (such as the bus 320a or 320b) implementing 12C protocols to enable communicative coupling between one or more component blocks 400, 700, 800, 900, 1000. Based on the 12C protocols each of the component blocks 400, 700, 800, 900, 1000, particularly their microcontroller, act as a receiver and/or transmitter, depending on the functionality. For example, the master components block 400 acts as both receiver and transmitter. Also, the salve component block 700 (having ultrasonic transducer 720) can also act both receiver and transmitter. However, slave component blocks such as 800, 900 (having LED array and motor or servo, respectively) may typically act as receivers.
[00105] Further, the 12C bus is a multi-master bus. Therefore, more than one component blocks 400, 700, 800, 900, 1000, particularly their microcontroller, are capable of initiating a data transfer to another connected component blocks. In such instance, the component block that initiates a data transfer on the bus is considered a bus master, and all the other component blocks are regarded to be bus slaves. In the present embodiment, the master component block 400 is primarily responsible for initiating the data transfer, however it may be evident to those skilled in the art that the salve component blocks (such as the component block 700) may also be configured to initiate the data transfer.
[00106]According to yet an embodiment, the present disclosure can relate to various other slave component blocks, apart from the slave component blocks 700, 800, 900, 1000. For example, such slave component blocks may include at least one sensor, which may include but is not limited to an accelerometer, a magnetometer, a pressure sensor, a temperature sensor, a gyroscopic sensor, a Global Positioning System (GPS) sensor. The sensors may be used to measure and collect data related to surroundings of the component blocks and the collected data may be processed (for example by the processor of the user electronic device 110 shown in FIG. 1) to design variety of communications for the component blocks. Further, a slave component to block may be configured to have a speaker operable to act as a sound source. For example, such a slave component block may include a memory storing various types of sound files or tracks adapted to be played based on communication data.
[00107] Referring now to FIG. 12, illustrated is a schematic illustration of a virtual guide 1200 to be presented on a user electronic device 1210 (such as the user electronic device 110 of the environment 100), in accordance with an embodiment of the present disclosure. Specifically, execution of the software product 140 (i.e. a computer readable program code) on a processor (such as the processor 204) of the user electronic device 1210 results in generating and rendering the virtual guide 1200 (a user graphical interface) on a display screen 1212 of the user electronic device 1210.
As shown, the user electronic device 1210 can be a tablet having the display screen 1212 but is not limited thereto. The display screen 1212 may, for example, be a touch-sensitive display screen that is operable to receive tactile inputs from the user. These tactile inputs may include clicking, tapping, pointing, moving, pressing and/or swiping with a finger or a touch-sensitive object like a pen.
[00108] In one embodiment, the virtual guide 1200 is configured to present a plurality of icons. Each of the plurality of icons is associated with a component piece, such the component pieces 400, 700, 800, 900, 1000. The icons may also be associated with component pieces, such as the wheel 1100. The plurality of component pieces 400, 700, 800, 900, 1000 and the wheel 1100 are adapted to be assembled with the help of the virtual guide 1200 to constitute a robot design 1220 for a modular robot.
[00109] In the present embodiment, the virtual guide 1200 is operable to interact with the user in real-time to present one or more of the slave component pieces 700, 800, 900, 1000 and one or more of the master component piece 400; and to present the user with information regarding functionality of the slave component pieces 700, 800, 900, 1000 and the master component piece 400. For example, when the master component piece 400 and the slave component piece 1000 (power source) are first connected with each other, their combinational three-dimensional view is presented on the virtual guide 1200. Thereafter, the virtual guide 1200 suggests which type of component piece can be further attached to the combined pieces 400, 1000 to attain the robot design 1220.
[00110]As shown in FIG. 12, the robot design 1220 includes the initial component pieces 400, 1000 coupled to the four component pieces 900 (motor or servo). The each of the four component pieces 900 is further coupled to one or more additional component pieces (such as wheels 1100). Further, the component pieces 700 and 800 (ultrasonic transducer and light array) are coupled the component pieces 900 to constitute the robot design 1220. The virtual guide 1200 also presents functionalities that can be performed or achieved with the robot design 1220. For example, the initial component pieces 400, 1000, the four component pieces 900 and the four wheels 1100 can constitute a robot design that can move like a car. Further, when the component pieces 700, 900 (ultrasonic transducer and light array) are coupled to the moving car module for determine distances between the component pieces and surroundings, and can provide light as well.
[00111]The virtual guide 1200 accordingly enables the user to assemble the component pieces in an interactive manner with the help of real-time three-dimensional views to constitute a robot design (such as the robot design 1220). It may be evident to those skilled in the art that with the help of the virtual guide 1200 that a user can assemble the component pieces in various arrangements to constitute varying robot designs having varying functionality, to provide, for example, sound, temperature measurement, rotation or movement of other pieces, and the like.
[00112] Referring now FIG. 13, illustrated is a schematic illustration of a programming interface 1300 to be presented on the user electronic device 1210, in accordance with an embodiment of the present disclosure. Specifically, the programming interface 1300 enables the user to design a command program which enables implementing various functionality associated with a robot design of a modular robot. In the present embodiment, the software product 140 further includes a computer readable program code adapted to be executed on a processor of the user electronic device 1210 to generate and render the programming interface 1300 (i.e. user graphical interface) on the display screen 1212 of the user electronic device 1210. The programming interface 1300 is configured to command one or more of a variety of communications between component pieces coupled by one or more of the at least one signal connector.
[00113] In one embodiment, the programming interface 1300 is configured to present a plurality of command icons 1310, 1312, 1314, 1316, 1318, 1320, 1322, 1324. Each of the plurality of command icons 1310-1324 represents a command causing transmission of one of the variety of communications between coupled component pieces. As shown, the command icons 1310, 1312, 1314, 1316, 1318, 1320, 1322, 1324 represent commands move, turn, sound, wait, light, follow, arm and decision, respectively. It may be evident to those skilled in the art that the programming interface 1300 can provide various other icons that represent other commands, such as spin, sprint, reverse and the like.
[00114]The plurality of command icons 1310-1324 are configured to transition between inactive and executable states in response to user input through the programming interface 1300. In an embodiment, the user input in response to which the plurality of command icons 1310-1324 transition between inactive and executable states includes dragging of the command icons 1310-1324 within the programming interface between a command icon glossary 1330 and a command assembly grid 1340.
[00115]As shown in FIG. 13, a plurality of command icons 1350 is assembled within the command grid 1340. The assembled command icons 1350 configures a command program which, when executed, causes transmission of electrical communications and data communications through the plurality of the component pieces 400, 700, 800, 900, 1000 to energize one or more of the microcontrollers to perform one or more commands represented by the assembled command icons 1350. The command program is executed by the master component piece 400, which causes transmission of a series of the commands from the master component piece 400 to the plurality of the slave component pieces the salve component pieces 700, 800, 900, and thereby energize one or more of the slave component pieces 700, 800, 900 to perform one or more commands represented by the assembled command icons 1350.
[00116]The assembled command icons 1350 enable implementing various functionalities associated with a robot design. For example, a moving car module having light and sound functionality can be programmed with the help of assembled command icons 1350, as shown in FIG. 13. As shown, the assembled command icons 1350 include commands such as start, thereafter move 1 meter, thereafter turn 90°, thereafter create sound, thereafter take decision, i.e. either follow and thereafter create sound and light or wait and thereafter turn 180° and move 1 meter.
[00117] Referring now to FIG. 14, illustrated is a perspective view of an adaptor plate 1400 for a foreign object, in accordance with an embodiment of the present disclosure. The term "foreign object" used herein is referred to a conventional robot which may be modular in nature or a single monolithic structure. The adapter plate 1400 includes at least one inwardly-facing flange 1402 and at least one outwardly-facing flange 1404 on a first surface 1410 and an array of pins 1420 extending from a second surface 1430.
[00118] Pins 1420 are constructed so as to engage with receptacles of any of a number of widely available, toy construction elements. For example, pins 1420 may enable assembly of adapter plate 1400 to LegoTM construction bricks.
[00119] Referring now to FIGS. 15-16, illustrated are perspective views of modular robots 1500 and 1600, in accordance with various embodiments of the present disclosure. As shown, the modular robot 1500 includes a specific robot design, which is achieved by assembling various component pieces with the help of a virtual guide 1200. For example, the modular robot 1500 is constituted by assembling the initial component pieces 400 (master component piece) and 1000 (power source), the component piece 1000 is further coupled to two component pieces 900 (motor or servo), each of the component pieces 900 is further coupled to the wheel 1100, the component piece 400 is also coupled to the component piece 900 (motor or servo) and the component piece 900 is further coupled to the component piece 800 (light array).
The component pieces 800, 900 are further coupled to each other by a connecting arm (not numbered). The modular robot 1500 accordingly constitutes the robot design that can move like a car with LED lights. Further, it is to be understood that the programming interface 1300 would enable a user to design a command program which enables in implementing various functionality associated with the modular robot 1500, for example, to assign a specific movement pattern (like car) to the modular robot 1500.
[00120] Referring now to FIG. 16, the modular robot 1600 includes the component piece 400 (master component piece) coupled to the component piece 1000 (power source) on one side and three component pieces 900 (motor or servo) coupled to the other three sides, the component piece 400 is also coupled to another component pieces 900 (motor or servo) at a top thereof, and the component pieces 900 is further coupled to the component piece 800 (light array) at a top thereof. The modular robot 1600 also accordingly constitutes the robot design that can move like a car with LED lights. Further, no connecting arm (as shown in FIG. 15) couple to the component pieces 800, 900 allows the component pieces 800 to have a rotary movement. Moreover, the programming interface 1300 would enable a user to design a command program which enables in implementing various functionality associated with the modular robot 1600.
[00121] Referring now to FIG. 17, illustrated is a schematic illustration of another example environment 1700 that is suitable for practicing another embodiment of the present disclosure. The environment 1700 is associated with various aspects of a modular robot, such as a robotic assembly system, a robotic programming system and a modular robot itself. The environment 1700 includes at least one master component piece 1702a (such as the master component piece 400) and a plurality of slave component pieces 1702b, 1702c, 1702d (such as the salve component pieces 700, 800, 900, 1000). The environment 1700 also includes a user electronic device 1710.
The user electronic device 1710 is operatively coupled to the master component pieces 1702a by a communication network 1720, which includes but not limited to WIFI, Bluetooth and the like.
[00122] In the present embodiment, the user electronic device 1710 stores a software product 1730. The software product 1730 includes a computer readable program code, recorded to a memory component of the user electronic device, which program code, when executed by a processor of the user electronic device 1710 is configured to generate a virtual guide (such as the virtual guide 1200). The virtual guide enables a user to assemble the component pieces 1702a, 1702b, 1702c, 1702d in an interactive manner with the help of real-time three-dimensional views to constitute a robot design (such as the robot design 1220).
[00123] The software product 1730 further includes a computer readable program code recorded to the memory of the user electronic device 1710, which program code, when executed by the processor of the user electronic device is configured to generate a programming interface (such as the programming interface 1300). The programming interface enables the user to design a command program with the help of assembled command icons (such as the assembled command icons 1350) for implementing various functionality associated with a robot design (such as the robot design 1220).
[00124]According to an embodiment, in the environment 1700 the user electronic device 1710 can be a customised user electronic device, which is pre-installed with the software product 1730 and operable to execute the software product 1730 for enabling assembling and programing a modular robot. Further, in the environment 1700 there is is no involvement of external devices, such as the server 120 of the FIG. 1.
[00125] Referring now to FIG. 18, illustrated is a schematic illustration of another example environment 1800 that is suitable for practicing yet another embodiment of the present disclosure. The environment 1800 is also associated with various aspects of a modular robot, such as a robotic assembly system, a robotic programming system and a modular robot itself. The environment 1800 includes at least one master component piece 1802a (such as the component piece 400) and a plurality of slave component pieces 1802b, 1802c, 1802d (such as the salve component pieces 700, 800, 900, 1000). The environment 1800 also includes a user electronic device 1810. The user electronic device 1810 is operatively coupled to the master component pieces 1802a by a communication network 1820, which includes but not limited to WIFI, Bluetooth and the like.
[00126] In the present embodiment, the master component piece 1802a stores a software product 1830. The software product 1830 includes a set of computer readable program code, recorded to a memory component of the master component piece 1802a, which program code, when executed by a processor (microcontroller) of the master component piece 1802a is configured to generate a virtual guide (such as the virtual guide 1200) and a programming interface (such as the programming interface 1300) at a display of the user electronic device 1810. The virtual guide accordingly enables a user to assemble the component pieces 1802a, 1802b, 1802c, 1802d to constitute a robot design. Further, the programming interface enables in designing a command program with the help of assembled command icons for implementing varying functionality associated with the robot design. It is to be understood that, in the environment 1800 the user electronic device 1810 can be a general electronic device such as a smart phone or a tablet associated with a user (or any person related to the user). Further, in the environment 1800 there is no to involvement of external devices, such as the server 120 of the FIG. 1.
[00127]The present disclosure also provides computer implemented method for assembling and programming a modular robot, in accordance with an embodiment of the present disclosure. Referring now to FIG. 19, illustrated is a flow diagram depicting various steps of a method 1900 for assembling a modular robot, in accordance with an embodiment of the present disclosure. Further, the method 1900 can be implemented in or with the assistance of the example environments 100, 1700 and 1800.
[00128]At step 1902, a virtual guide is provided at a display of a user electronic device. The virtual guide includes icons associated with at least one master component piece and at least one slave component piece of the modular robot.
[00129]At step 1904, information regarding functionality of the at least one master component piece and the at least one slave component piece is provided on the virtual guide.
[00130]At step 1906, a robot design for assembling the at least one master component piece and the at least one slave component piece is suggested on the virtual guide.
[00131]At step 1908, the at least one master component piece and the at least one slave component piece are assembled based on the suggested robot design to constitute the modular robot. The robot design includes various possible assembly combinations of the at least one master component piece and the at least one slave component piece.
[00132]The steps 1902-1908 are only illustrative and other alternatives can also be provided where one or more steps are added, one or more steps are removed, or one or more steps are provided in a different sequence without departing from the scope of the claims herein. For example, the method 1900 further includes providing a three-dimensional view at the virtual guide when two component pieces (one of the slave or master component piece) are first coupled to each other. The method 1900 further includes providing a three-dimensional view of the modular robot constituted by assembling the at least one master component piece and the at least one slave component based on the robot design. Also, the method 1900 includes providing to information regarding functionality of the robot design on the virtual guide.
[00133] Referring now to FIG. 20, illustrated is a flow diagram depicting various steps of a method 2000 for programming a modular robot, in accordance with an embodiment of the present disclosure. Further, the method 2000 can be implemented in or with the assistance of the example environments 100, 1700 and 1800.
[00134]At step 2002, a programming interface is provided at a display of a user electronic device. The programming interface includes a plurality of command icons, each representing a command causing transmission of one of a variety of communications between assembled component pieces. The component pieces include at least one master component piece and at least one slave component piece of the modular robot.
[00135]At step 2004, at least two command icons of the plurality of command icons are associated to configure a command program represented by such assembled command icons. In an example, the command program is configured by dragging at least two command icons within the programming interface between a command icon glossary and a command assembly grid. Further, upon dragging the at least two command icons into the command assembly grid from the command icon glossary is configured to transition between inactive to executable states of the command program (configured with the at least two command icons).
[00136]At step 2006, the command program is executed by a component piece (for oo example by a master component piece) of the component pieces.
[00137]The steps 2002-2006 are only illustrative and other alternatives can also be provided where one or more steps are added, one or more steps are removed, or one or more steps are provided in a different sequence without departing from the scope of the claims herein. For example, the method 2000 further includes transmission from 5 the component piece to the connected component pieces a series of commands to energize the connected component pieces and to perform one or more commands represented by the assembled command icons. In an example, the transmission causes electrical communications and data communications through the connected component pieces to energize one or more of microcontrollers thereof to perform one 10 or more commands represented by the assembled command icons.
[00138] Embodiments of the present disclosure provide a computer program product that includes a non-transitory or non-transient computer-readable storage medium storing computer-executable code for assembling and programing a modular robot. For example, the computer-executable code, when executed, is configured to perform the steps 1902-1908 of the method 1900; or configured to perform the steps 20022006 of the method 2000. In an example, the codes may be downloaded from a software application store, for example, from an "App store", to a user electronic device.
[00139] Embodiments of the present disclosure are susceptible to being used for various purposes, including, though not limited to, enabling a user to assemble and/or program a modular robot. For example, the present disclosure provides simple mechanical connectors for robot modules (i.e. component pieces or blocks) which can be relatively rotated with respect to each other for firmly coupling the robot modules. The present disclosure also provides real time assistance, i.e. a virtual guide, for easily and comfortably selecting various robot modules and to assemble the selected robot modules to constitute a robot design having specific set of functions. The virtual guide also enables in configuring numerous robot designs for the modular robot using same robot modules. Further, the present disclosure provides a simple programming interface for programming a command program for an assembled modular robot so that the modular robot can have different functional aspects or movement patterns. Moreover, the symbolic or icon based programming interface make the programming aspects playful for the children, and helps in developing inclination for the children towards actual computer languages programing.
[00140] Modifications to embodiments of the present disclosure described in the foregoing are possible without departing from the scope of the present disclosure as defined by the accompanying claims. Expressions such as "including", "comprising", "incorporating", "consisting of', "have", "is" used to describe and claim the present disclosure are intended to be construed in a non-exclusive manner, namely allowing for items, components or elements not explicitly described also to be present. Reference to the singular is also to be construed to relate to the plural.

Claims (43)

  1. CLAIMSWhat is claimed is: 1. A robot assembly system, comprising: a plurality of component pieces each including: at least one mechanical connector provided to an exterior facet of each component piece such that each component piece is capable of mechanical coupling with one or more other component pieces; at least one signal connector extending from an interior to enable electrical communication, data communication or both between component pieces connected by way of the mechanical connectors; and a microcontroller operatively coupled with the at least one signal connector to communicate data between two or more of the component pieces; and a programming interface configured to command one or more of a variety of 15 communications between component pieces coupled by one or more of the at least one signal connector.
  2. 2. The system as set forth in claim 1, wherein the mechanical connectors are configured to couple two or more component pieces in response to relative rotation between the two or more contacting component pieces.
  3. 3. The system as set forth in claim 2, wherein the mechanical connectors comprise a plurality of inwardly-directed flanges and a plurality of outwardly-directed flanges configured such that upon relative rotation of a second component piece relative to a first component piece with at least one inwardly-directed flange of the first component piece positioned adjacent to at least one outwardly-directed flange of the second component piece, the at least one outwardly directed flange engages with the at least one inwardly-directed flange to removably lock the first and second component pieces together.
  4. 4. The system as set forth in any of claims 1-3, wherein the signal connectors further comprises spring-loaded contact pins.
  5. 5. The system as set forth in claim 4, wherein a plurality of the spring-loaded contact pins are arranged in one or more lines radiating from near a centre of the exterior facet towards a perimeter of the exterior facet.
  6. 6. The system as set forth in claim 4, wherein relative rotation of first and second contacting component pieces is configured to move the spring-loaded contact pins of the second component piece into and out of engagement with the spring-loaded contact pins of the first component piece.
  7. 7. The system as set forth in any of claims 1-6, wherein the programming interface is configured to present a plurality of command icons each representing a command causing transmission of one of the variety of communications between coupled component pieces.
  8. 8. The system as set forth in claim 7, wherein the plurality of command icons are configured to transition between inactive and executable states in response to user input through the programming interface.
  9. 9. The system as set forth in claim 8, wherein the user input in response to which the plurality of command icons transition between inactive and executable states includes dragging of the command icons within the programming interface between a 20 command icon glossary and a command assembly grid.
  10. 10. The system as set forth in any of claims 6-9 wherein a plurality of command icons assembled within the command grid comprise a command program which, when executed, causes transmission of electrical communications and data communications through a plurality of the component pieces to energize one or more of the microcontrollers to perform one or more commands represented by the assembled command icons.
  11. 11. The system as set forth in any of claims 1-10, wherein at least one of the plurality of component pieces includes an ultrasonic transducer configured to determine distance between the at least one of the plurality of component pieces relative to 30 surroundings.
  12. 12. The system as set forth in any of claims 1-11, wherein at least one of the plurality of component pieces includes a power source.
  13. 13. The system as set forth in any of claims 1-12, wherein at least one of the plurality of component pieces includes an array of light-emitting diodes at the exterior facet 5 thereof.
  14. 14. The system as set forth in any of claims 1-13, wherein at least one of the plurality of component pieces includes a motor.
  15. 15. The system as set forth in claim 14, wherein the motor is configured to rotate the exterior facet relative to an interior of the at least one of the plurality of component 10 pieces.
  16. 16. The system as set forth in any of claims 1-15, wherein at least one of the plurality of component pieces includes a servo.
  17. 17. The system as set forth in any of claims 1-6, further comprising an adapter plate including at least one inwardly-facing flange and at least one outwardly-facing flange 15 on a first surface and an array of pins extending from a second surface.
  18. 18. The system as set forth in claim 1, wherein each component piece includes a bus implementing 12C protocols to enable communicative coupling between one or more component pieces.
  19. 19. The system as set forth in any of claims 1-18, wherein at least one component piece takes a cubic shape.
  20. 20. The system as set forth in any of claims 1-19, wherein each of the component pieces comprises a plurality of exterior facets each including at least one of the mechanical connectors.
  21. 21. The system as set forth in any of claims 1-20, further comprising a wheel including one or more flanges configured for engagement with at least one of the at least one outwardly-directed flanges and the at least one inwardly-directed flanges.
  22. 22. A modular robotic system, comprising: a plurality of slave component blocks configured for mutual mechanical engagement through mating flanges in response to relative rotation of the slave component blocks and for mutual electrical engagement through mating spring-loaded contact pins; at least one master component block configured for mechanical engagement with one or more of the slave component blocks through mating flanges in response to relative rotation and for electrical engagement with one or more of the slave component blocks through mating spring-loaded contact pins; computer readable program code recorded to a memory component of a user electronic device, which program code, when executed by a processor of the user electronic device is configured to generate a virtual guide to interact with a user in real-time to present robot designs comprised of one or more of the slave component blocks and one or more of the master component block and to present the user with information regarding functionality of the slave component blocks and the master component blocks; and computer readable program code recorded to the memory of the user electronic device, which program code, when executed by the processor of the user electronic device is configured to generate a programming interface to present the user with a plurality of command icons each representing a command which, when associated with a plurality of other command icons, provides a command program which, when executed by the master component block, causes transmission of a series of the commands from the master component block to a plurality of the slave component blocks to energize one or more of the slave component blocks to perform one or more commands represented by the assembled command icons.
  23. 23. The system as set forth in claim 22, wherein the mating flanges comprise a plurality of inwardly-directed flanges and a plurality of outwardly-directed flanges configured such that upon relative rotation of a second component block relative to a first component block with at least one inwardly-directed flange of the first component block positioned adjacent to at least one outwardly-directed flange of the second component block, the at least one outwardly directed flange engages with the at least one inwardly-directed flange to removably lock the first and second component blocks together.
  24. 24. The system as set forth in claim 23, wherein relative rotation of first and second contacting component blocks is configured to move the spring-loaded contact pins of 5 the second component block into and out of engagement with the spring-loaded contact pins of the first component block.
  25. 25. The system as set forth in any of claims 24, wherein the plurality of command icons are configured to transition between inactive and executable states in response to user input through the programming interface.
  26. 26. The system as set forth in claim 25, wherein the user input in response to which the plurality of command icons transition between inactive and executable states includes dragging of the command icons within the programming interface between a command icon glossary and a command assembly grid.
  27. 27. The system as set forth in any of claims 22-26, wherein at least one of the plurality of slave component blocks includes an ultrasonic transducer configured to determine position of the at least one of the plurality of slave component blocks relative to surroundings.
  28. 28. The system as set forth in any of claims 22-27, wherein at least one of the plurality of slave component blocks includes a power source.
  29. 29. The system as set forth in any of claims 22-28, wherein at least one of the plurality of slave component blocks includes an array of light-emitting diodes at the exterior facet thereof.
  30. 30. The system as set forth in any of claims 22-29, wherein at least one of the plurality of slave component blocks includes a motor.
  31. 31. The system as set forth in any of claims 22-30, wherein at least one of the plurality of slave component blocks includes a servo.
  32. 32. The system as set forth in any of claims 22-31, further comprising an adapter plate including at least one flange configured to engage with at least one of the inwardly-facing flanges and outwardly-facing flanges of the component blocks and an array of pins extending from a second surface and configured to engage with one or more foreign objects.
  33. 33. A modular robotic system, comprising: a plurality of slave component blocks configured for mutual mechanical engagement through mating flanges in response to relative rotation of the slave component blocks and for mutual electrical engagement through mating spring-loaded contact pins; at least one master component block configured for mechanical engagement 10 with one or more of the slave component blocks through mating flanges in response to relative rotation and for electrical engagement with one or more of the slave component blocks through mating spring-loaded contact pins; and computer readable program code recorded to a memory of the at least one master component block, which program code, when executed by a microprocessor of the at least one master component block, is configured to generate a programming interface to present a user with a plurality of command icons each representing a command which, when associated with a plurality of other command icons, provides a command program which, when executed by the master component block, causes transmission of a series of the commands from the master component block to a plurality of the slave component blocks to energize one or more of the slave component blocks to perform one or more commands represented by the assembled command icons.
  34. 34. The system as set forth in claim 33, wherein the mating flanges comprise a plurality of inwardly-directed flanges and a plurality of outwardly-directed flanges configured such that upon relative rotation of a second component block relative to a first component block with at least one inwardly-directed flange of the first component block positioned adjacent to at least one outwardly-directed flange of the second component block, the at least one outwardly directed flange engages with the at least one inwardly-directed flange to removably lock the first and second component blocks together.
  35. 35. The system as set forth in claim 34, wherein relative rotation of first and second contacting component blocks is configured to move the spring-loaded contact pins of the second component block into and out of engagement with the spring-loaded contact pins of the first component block.
  36. 36. The system as set forth in any of claims 33-35, wherein the plurality of command icons are configured to transition between inactive and executable states in response to user input through the programming interface.
  37. 37. The system as set forth in claim 36, wherein the user input in response to which the plurality of command icons transition between inactive and executable states includes dragging of the command icons within the programming interface between a command icon glossary and a command assembly grid.
  38. 38. The system as set forth in any of claims 33-37, wherein at least one of the plurality of slave component blocks includes an ultrasonic transducer configured to determine position of the at least one of the plurality of slave component blocks relative to surroundings.
  39. 39. The system as set forth in any of claims 33-28, wherein at least one of the plurality of slave component blocks includes a power source.
  40. 40. The system as set forth in any of claims 33-39, wherein at least one of the plurality of slave component blocks includes an array of light-emitting diodes at the exterior facet thereof.
  41. 41. The system as set forth in any of claims 33-40, wherein at least one of the plurality of slave component blocks includes a motor.
  42. 42. The system as set forth in any of claims 33-41, wherein at least one of the plurality of slave component blocks includes a servo.
  43. 43. The system as set forth in any of claims 33-42, further comprising an adapter plate including at least one flange configured to engage with at least one of the inwardly-facing flanges and outwardly-facing flanges of the component blocks and an array of pins extending from a second surface and configured to engage with one or more foreign objects. 38
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WO2021076088A1 (en) * 2019-10-18 2021-04-22 Igor Morozov Self-reconfiguring modular robot with retractable wheel mechanisms
CN111817394A (en) * 2020-07-17 2020-10-23 上海布鲁可科技有限公司 Pairing structure between pairing parts

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