TROLLER – Cylindrical Robot Project


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The TROLLLER 1D is an educational/hobby robot that can crawl (like a caterpillar) or curl itself into a circle and roll itself around.

The TROLLER 1D is my newest robot project. The concept uses a series of simple ‘links’ to make up the TROLLER. Its locomotion can be similar to that of a caterpillar or snake while laying flat, but the novel concept is that it can roll itself into a large circle and still propel itself (like tank treads) by shifting links in the proper sequencing.

Video demonstrating the TROLLER changing shape from round to oval and slowly moving forward about 1 revolution.

TROLLER 1D Prototype Test

Troller Prototype Images 

I laser cut and assembled a complete new TROLLER prototype.

I made this version wider, to make it more stable.  Then I doubled up some of the servos to get extra torque at the master link.


I still have countless hours of programming ahead of me; but a after a short while I was able to get it a complete revolution out of the new prototype.

TROLLER 2nd Iteration Prototype

Although the new prototype demonstrates my need for better servo motors and equipment it also is teaching me more about how to make this TROLLER go round-and-round.

The goal of this project is to refine the second iteration prototype design into a functional robotic product kit. The first version will be the TROLLER 1D. This version of TROLLER will only be capable of moving along 1 dimension. By limiting the focus of this project to a single dimension, I will be able to perfect the initial two concepts –’Propulsion by Self Rolling‘ and ‘Crawling‘.

Propulsion by Self Rolling works by shifting the links in sequences to rotate itself around the perimeter. To refine this concept the TROLLER 1D will use motion sensing capabilities like the sensors found in a Wii remote (accelerometers and gyroscopic sensors). These sensors will allow the control programming to learn how to roll at different speeds, how to change directions, and how to transition into crawling mode. Crawling propulsion will be achieved by mimicking the movements of a caterpillar. Proper sequencing of the servos will allow smooth transitioning.

TROLLER First Full Servo Test 10-24-12

Mechanical design: I will begin this effort by refining the mechanical link design into a ‘Master Link‘ and ‘Link Units‘. The ‘Master Link‘ will enclose the main controller, motion sensing & wireless communication circuitry, a battery pack, and servo motors. The ‘Link Units‘ will have servo motors and additional battery packs It would then take 1 Master Unit and 3 or 4 Link Units to make up a full TROLLER 1D.

Below is drawing showing the newest CAD layout and the design I’m putting together now. Click On The Images to enlarge.

Motion Sensing & Control:  The main controller will be responsible for controlling the TROLLER 1D.  It will use wireless (Bluetooth or WiFi) communication to the host PC and motion sensing electronics to measure acceleration and rotation, while rolling.  This circuitry will be designed during the project phase.

This Kickstarter effort will provide the funding needed to further develop the motion sensing and locomotion concepts and turn my crude prototype into a functional product kit.  The funds will be used to purchase and test more powerful servo motors, micro-controllers, motion sensing circuitry, wireless Bluetooth or WiFi modules, and the hardware needed to assemble the TROLLER.


More Resources About This Project –

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