Hopefully not quite as freaky as the headless dog robot currently giving me nightmares is The Sharp Bot by AZEITRON-DESIGNS is capable of real-time analog-to-digital distance detection and phototrophic light detection aka “attraction to light”. Utilizing 3 Sharp GP2D12 Infrared Sensors it can detect objects as close as 1cm by method of triangulation.
By using triangulation to detect the distance a small linear CCD array detector is positioned 3/4 of an inch away from an IR emitter and is used to compute the distance and/or presence of the IR reflection in the field of view. If the IR light reflects off an object, it returns to the detector and creates a triangle between the point of reflection, the emitter, and the detector. The angles in this triangle vary based on the distance to the object, and from those angles, the distance to the object can be calculated.
This method of ranging is almost immune to interference from ambient light and offers amazing indifference to the color of object being detected.
Also dual on-board CDS (Cadmium Sulfate) photocells are placed front left/right. For detecting light Sharp Bot uses photocells arranged in series with a 4.7kΩ resistor as part of a potential divider with the ADC measuring the voltage across the photocell which allows the robot to follow a flashlight in hand or find the nearest light source (eg. lamp, sunlight) even when it’s path is littered with objects! Can run even quicker with lights-out. Great speed, awesome detection, dazzling light effects, single cell powered, long running times and full auto-protection circuitry make for one intelligently advanced robot.

Can be programmed to detect objects very closely or from a distance. You can specify a pre-programmed distance if you prefer.

Robot shown in Blue PVC Plastic but can be built in your choice of Clear or Bronze Lexan which is the ultimate in durability.

sharpbot 2
Interesting use of Ponoko for robot makers like those on Big Blue Saw.

You can also check out the (OAWR) Obstacle Avoiding Walking Robot by Clement Fletcher

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