Autonomous robot auto-docking and energy management systems and methods

  • US 8,749,196 B2
  • Filed: 12/29/2006
  • Issued: 06/10/2014
  • Est. Priority Date: 01/21/2004
  • Status: Active Grant
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First Claim
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1. A method of docking a robotic device with a base station comprising a plurality of signal emitters including a right signal emitter and a left signal emitter, the method comprising the steps of:

  • detecting, by a sensor mounted to remain continuously fixed parallel to a fore-aft axis of the robotic device that is perpendicular to a differential drive wheels of the robotic device, (i) a right signal transmitted by the right signal emitter, (ii) a left signal transmitted by the left signal emitter, and (iii) an overlap zone between the right signal and the left signal that includes both the right signal and the left signal, wherein the left signal is encoded differently from the right signal;

    determining when the robot is outside the overlap zone and, when the robot is outside of the overlap zone, orienting the fore-aft axis of the robotic device and the sensor in relation to the right signal and the left signal, wherein the fore-aft axis is moved towards the right if the left signal is detected and the right signal is not detected and the fore-aft axis is moved towards to the left if the right signal is detected and the left signal is not detected;

    determining when the robot is inside the overlap zone and, when the robot is inside of the overlap zone, maintaining an orientation of the fore-aft axis of the robotic device and the sensor as the robotic device approaches to the base station by following a path defined at least in part by the overlap zone.

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