A line follower robot is a robot that can track lines and follow them, proceeding along a preset path that can be altered by moving the lines. Sophisticated robots can distinguish between different colors, making it possible for them to follow one among several lines accurately. Such devices can be subjects of competitions in robots and computing, and they also have a number of real world applications. For example, robots in warehouses can follow lines to pick up and deliver products along a specific route.
The line follower robot design requires a chassis that can allow it to move, whether on wheels or via another mode of locomotion. It also needs detection devices to find lines, and on-board computing to process information. A simple camera often provides an inexpensive method for spotting and following lines. A processor interprets the input from the camera and controls the movement of the robot.
In testing to determine how well a line follower robot works, a number of challenges can be presented. One is a complex path with lots of sharp turns and overlapping lines, which can confuse a robot with limited programming. Technicians can also place lines of different colors to see how the robot responds, and may set up a course on an incline or with other obstacles to determine the degree of sophistication in the programming. An advanced robot can compensate, while others may not be prepared for rough terrain or other problems.
Competitions usually provide a set of rules entrants must follow with each line follower robot they submit. The rules typically discuss the type of course so entrants can prepare, and also limit the types of programming and technology available. This creates a more level playing field for contestants, who will not need to worry about things like entrants substituting robots from other sources to win the contest. Robots may be taken through a series of challenges to see which performs the best by staying on track and completing courses at rapid speeds.
Commercial line follower robot kits are available, and it is also possible to build and program one from scratch. Robotics manufacturers produce robust models for industrial and other applications. These robots may include a variety of features, depending on the purpose they are designed for, and typically communicate with a computer so they can receive upgrades and other information from the manufacturer. This allows a company to take advantage of robotics technology without having a staff member capable of programming and maintaining the devices.