Mey and I are considering several software alternatives that allow us to make the prototypes and send them to be 3D printed.
The ideal would be that we could use the same software on our different platforms. Mey is using OSX and I’m using Ubuntu GNU/Linux.
So far my favorite choice is FreeCAD, for several reasons. One, of course, is because it is free, with no restrictions or paid extra features. Another one is because I got used to SolidWorks at the University, and FreeCAD learning curve is less steep for me than, for example, OpenSCAD.
As the author of the world first computer generated sculpture Robert Mallary said back in the 70’s:
Cyberneticians generally make a distinction between artificial intelligence, in which a computer is programmed to perform logical or perceptual operations in the manner it can best perform them using its own natural machine “language,” and simulated intelligence, in which the programmer uses the computer to imitate the ways he believes these operations take place inside The human head.
In this sense, we are also thinking in two different strategies to deal with our robots’ behavior:
a) “Artificial intelligence”: design a neural network model with inputs (sensor data) and outputs (motor signals) and use simulated data to train the network and reach the goals, with the help of the available tools (Neuroduino, ArduinoANN, FANNtool). An interesting example of this strategy is the neural network controlled RC car.
One of the physical problems to solve is that the body of the robots has a shape that is easy to be climbed, also when they are upside down. In the case of the tank-robot alternative, the solution could be to add a sort of self flipping flaps, that turn with gravity.