Controlling robots with TV remotes

This week, the Churchill Park School classes experimented with using TV remotes to control robots using their infrared (IR) signals.

The goal was to code the robot to respond when a specific button was pressed, for example left arrow means turn left, forward arrow means go forward (although any button could be coded to perform any task – the robot just needed to know how to respond to any given signal).

Firstly, it was an opportunity to learn about the light spectrum. We can’t see infrared but IR sensors can, both on the TV and the robot. We also used a smartphone camera to ‘see’ the light, as cameras can pick it up, too.

Secondly, the IR signal itself is a binary code, of 1s and 0s, usually a simple seven-digit code. One challenge was it appears that the remotes often use the same code, event from different manufacturers, as there was some interference. This meant working out how to resolve the issue, primarily using different control buttons.

Actually loading the code/signal to the robot itself seemed the simplest part of the whole process. Then, finally, we had the sumo wrestle, where students remotely controlled their robots to push others’ robots out of the ring.

Well done everyone!

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