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Differential Drive Steering and PID


PID Controller
I have heard many times that "the system won't converge using the P term alone".

"Maybe that's why the bot did the drunk walk". If I can simulate mobility models in MATLAB, I can probably simulate a differential drive robot too.

After working out the maths for the forward kinematics of differential drives, here's some results:



The Primitive Solution
The algorithm: curve to the left if it's too far to the right, and vice versa. It's not even a P-controller because the amount of correction is not proportional to how far it is away from the center. It works, but it wobbles:

... and clearly does not converge - it is unstable. If this trend continues, the bot will hit the wall eventually.




A Proportional-Controller
A controller with a proper P term (and P term only):
It can't even complete the track before hitting the wall. Let alone the fact that a real ultrasonic sensor won't work during those sections with 45 degree heading.




A PD-controller
The "proper" way: add a differential term.
It quickly settles to the center and stays there. Magic.


Wish I had the time to study control theory in greater depth. Imagine all the cool things you can do with it: mach 7 missile, commercial airliner, (orange) industrial robotic arm... and of course the thermostats, though not as cool.




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