the type of robot, the operating
environment, and the purpose of the
robot. What constitutes safe operation
of a BattleBot engaged in a fight to the
death in a BattleBot arena doesn’t necessarily apply to a robot designed to
explore robot-robot communications. A
few globally applicable safe operation
All Electronics Corp.
BattleBot Rules & Guidelines
Surge Protection Device Handbook.
Cooper Bussman, Inc., 2002.
• Charge batteries in a well ventilated
area and use a charger that guards
against overheating and overcharging.
• Affix robot arms and other stationary
robots securely on a stable platform
prior to power-up.
• Establish a safety zone around a
robot within which no one may enter
The above safety measures apply
in varying degrees to experimental
robots and those designed for exploration and assorted tasks. Robots
intended for competition — such as
BattleBot-style competitions — must
abide by specific safety guidelines.
Even if you are not intending to enter
your robot in a competition, it’s a
good idea to review safety guidelines
associated with events for ideas on
how you can improve the safety of
A common question regarding
robot safety is how much safety
overhead is enough. In general, the
greater the safety risk, the more
safety should be emphasized in robot
design. A kill switch and comprehensive energy management circuitry
generally don’t make sense for a slow
moving, 12 ounce carpet rover.
However, a highly mobile, 20 pound
robot equipped with an expensive
sensor array, significant on-board
processing hardware, and a high-current drive system may dictate a full
suite of safety technologies.
The obvious tradeoffs are safety
for increased complexity, weight, cost,
and development time. Increased
complexity usually translates to a
greater likelihood of failure because of
an increased number of failure points.
For example, a dead battery in a
remote enable/kill switch can disable
an otherwise operational robot.
However, replacing a battery is a trivial
matter compared with replacing an
expensive video camera because you
couldn’t stop your robot from
slamming into a table leg. SV
56 SERVO 01.2007