BAHX is a six legged walker that is quite unique. All of its motor functions, including walking, turning, object detection, and even an optional reversing feature are HARDWIRED. In other words, this robot’s brain contains no microprocessor. There are no pre-programmed commands telling it what to do or when to do it.
The circuit is designed in such a way that it uses simple components to produce an electronic signal in order to give the motor(s) instructions that end up displaying the result desired. The B.E.A.M. philosophy of robotics follows this approach to its many designs with some very satisfying and brilliant models out there. I’ll not explain everything about BEAM robotics here, as that is done elsewhere on the web and is done much better than I could do.
Generally speaking though, the thinking goes that most organisms don’t put a lot of brain power or cognitive thought into its most basic functions. For example, most don’t think to consciously tell their lungs to take a breath each time, nor do they mentally tell the leg to stretch out in front when walking, Most really don’t bring these things into the rational thought much, and truthfully, a lot of yours and my most basic of functions are hardwired into our brains in such a way that we really don’t think about these kinds of commands (stepping forward, telling our heart to beat) at all.
BEAM robotics however, at least as far as most of the examples on the web seem to be, seems sometimes to limit itself to very simple and light designs, too many of them resembling more serious robotics projects only very, very slightly even by the most accommodating of standards. A walker that simply vibrates until it goes one direction or another, or one that slides its feet back and forth on a smooth surface to give the illusion of walking just doesn’t satisfy. In other words, I wanted to make something using this analog technology, but something that would be indistinguishable from a programmable robot in its walking, environment sensing, and navigating.
I found myself telling my sons to be careful when they touched one of my projects. I would sigh with relief when they finally got done inspecting it. Most of the things I was able to put together with my limited ability and materials were so fragile a puff a wind could make them fall apart. I wanted to build a bot with everything in the above paragraph in mind, but one that could withstand the attention of my 10 year old. I figured, if it could withstand that, it could be considered a truly durable design.