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Biology, Electronics, Aesthetics, and Mechanics

A design philosophy for robotics, where analogue electronics and reactive sensor control is preferred over digital electronics via a microcontroller and the use of planning AI.

Freeforming, Recycling and the use of Solar Power

A key element of BEAM is the use of 'freeforming' circuits rather than using a conventional substrate upon which to build a circuit, such as a PCB. Components are directly soldered together and become part, or the entirety of the structure of the robot. BEAMer's also prefer to use recycled parts and material in the construction of their robots, and the use of solar power rather than batteries.

These design restrictions result in some beautifully simple and effective machines.

BEAM Nervous Networks

The control mechanism of a BEAM robot is a set of analogue circuits which are broadly biologically inspired, and can be connected together to provide fixed control signals (for tasks such as moving a multi-legged walker) or have sensors integrated into them to provide a link to the outside world.

Nv Neuron

One of the simplest BEAM components is the nv neuron, which consists of a capacitor, resistor and inverter arranged so they form a 1st order high pass filter with it's output inverted. In BEAM robotics, circuits are considered active when the output is low - this circuit will output low pulses for a constant time (set by the values of the capacitor and resistor) when the input changes voltage.

Nv neurons can be stacked together in arrays, where signals will be propagated slowly along them.

nvneuron.jpg

An Nv neuron in the breadboard with a large capacitor, to make the pulse easier for a human to see.

Solar Engines

BEAM types

Photovores