Self Balancing Bicycle: A Concept

ajaykumar1018

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Self-Balancing Bicycle is a field that has been around for a while, simultaneously swarm robotics has evolved by leaps and bounds demonstrating promising results inspiring a lot of researchers across a spectrum of wide fields. In a perspective, a self-balancing bicycle is a non-linear unstable system similar to that of an inverted pendulum. I and my colleagues have proposed a new method of self-balancing a bicycle by the collective behavior movement of swarm robots accompanied using the concepts of center of mass ( COM ) by shifting the position of multiple swarm robots in coordination with each other which in turn maintains the center of mass of the system as a whole for the stabilization of the bicycle. The proposed solution will have the ability to balance a bicycle in case of a collision and is also helpful in better safety of the rider in day to day scenario. The proposed solution will also be beneficial for learners.

Introduction:

With the recent changes in climate and global warming, we all know that the human influence on climate change is much higher than we can ever imagine. Recent trends in anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are higher than normal, touching the limits of the sky. In the world of rapid transition and likeness of swift-moving behavior we all as humans have failed in saving our nature.

Cycling, on the other hand, not only has the least to almost no effect on pollution but also helps in protecting the heart from the diseases caused due to pollution. Cycling 10-kilometers each way to work would save 1500 kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions each year. It also reduces the chance of many health issues such as obesity, cardiovascular, cancer, diabetes, bone injuries, arthritis and also in mental health-related issues such as anxiety, depression, and stress. It also has a tiny manufacturing footprint from the rest of the ways of transportation.

Swarm robots are completely decentralized units that coordinate with each other. Their desired collective behavior emerges from the interactions between the robots and the interactions of robots with the environment. The field of swarm robots is inspired by nature setting where the single organism can’t complete the task but a colony of organisms can. Example: bees and ant colonies, where ants communicate with each other using touch organs, reinforcing better routes which finally leads them to identify the best path.[6]

Swarm robots are one of the hot research topics whose potential applications are rescue operations, collective mapping, and fire extinguishment but they are not limited to just those applications. Properties like scalability, autonomy, large number and flexibility of these tiny robots make them unique and encourage in further exploration of its applications.

Theory of balancing a bicycle:

Balancing a bicycle is analogous to what we all know as the ’inverted pendulum’ problem as shown in figure 1. An inverted pendulum is unstable and will fall over without intervention of any additional force acting upon externally. By monitoring the angle θ and shifting the pivot horizontally to the point where the center of mass is initially stable we can achieve the stability maintaining an equilibrium.

θ.png
Figure 1. Inverted Pendulum​

Swarm Robotics:

Swarm Robotics is a robotic system consisting of a large number of simple autonomous robots called swarm robots, acting in coordination with each other. Swarm robotics is inspired by the collective behavior of colonies of ants that can perform tasks which are beyond the capabilities of individual. Beni defines swarm robots as “The group of robots which has special characteristics similar to those found in swarms of insects.” In a colony of insects, there exists no commander, not all of the insects are aware of overall conditions beyond the colony, these insects exchange such information in the swarm and modify their behavior according to the work done by the last insect and collectively accomplish the task. Such behaviour can be observed in ants while collecting food, termites while building mud tunnels and bees while building their honeycomb.

Similarly, the abilities are applied in swarm robots for creating intelligent, self-organized and decentralized. These robots interact with each other and as well as with their surroundings with the help of sensors attached to them, they self coordinate with each other for effective results.

Methodology:

We introduce a new concept of balancing a bicycle which is a classic real-life example of a non-linear unstable system. One of the approaches to solve this problem is to stabilize the system by decreasing the tilt angle () so that it moves towards its initial frame of equilibrium.

For a stable bicycle ride, the center of mass of the bike should below the seat and in between the front and rear wheel as shown in figure 2.

COM Bikkee.png
Figure 2. COM of a bike.
A bicycle rider usually tries to maintain the center of mass in the same position by making body movements relative to the bike, like leaning his body on the opposite side of that of the bike. With this concept, we propose an approach where a sliding platform is attached above the rear wheel on which swarm robots are placed on both ends of the platform. This platform has a small railing at the edge along the width so that the swarm robots don’t fall down.
On the extended axles of the front and back wheel, ultrasonic sensors are mounted facing towards the ground. These sensors trigger ultrasonic waves which hit the ground and get reflected to the sensors. NodeMCU analyses the time taken for emission and reception of these ultrasonic waves, and calculates the distance between the ground and the axle of the bike.

When a bicycle is in a leaned position then it is in an unstable condition, the tilt angle changes and the ultrasonic sensors record the time taken for one hitting the ground and bouncing back to the axle of leaned side and the opposite side. NodeMCU analyses that the distance between ground and axle is lesser for the leaned side than the other side. In this situation, the NodeMCU acts as Master and commands all the Slave Swarm Robots which weights attached to their body of leaned side to move to other side by rotating wheels in a clockwise direction. Even after moving the robots to the opposite side of leaned position, if the distance from the ground doesn’t restore to stable condition then the Master starts moving the platform to the opposite side of leaned position.

In this manner the center of mass is brought back to its initial stable position, the tilt angle and distance between the axle and ground reduces.

Conclusion:

Swarm robotics has tremendous potential in the field of robotics for solving numerous problems where a single robot can not complete the task but a swarm of robots can. Swarm robotics is still a new research area and has to be explored more to take advantage of this concept and find more practical applications.

Acknowledgment:

I and the co-authors would like to thank Next Tech Lab AP and SRM University AP for providing useful suggestions and countless support.
 
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Quantum

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This is our first entry for simplified research across all of the technologies here in the community and is a great first addition @ajaykumar1018