Building a robotic bed with Arduino


Self-driving cars? How about an autonomous bed instead? 


Randy Sarafan over at the Instructables Design Studio has created a robotic social bed that seeks out people and makes new friends along the way.

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You can think of it as an autonomous vehicle, just in the form of a queen-sized bed. Bedfellow is more than a futuristic piece of furniture, it’s capable of achieving some pretty impressive high speeds and sustaining 8 horsepower of force with peaks of 25 horsepower. Not to mention, the bed has quite a bit of torque behind it as well, having carried up to at least 12 people at once without ever slowing down.

Thanks to its wooden torsion frame box frame and sturdy central drive column, Bedfellow has been made to support up to 3,000 pounds. Additionally, the outer casters have springs to absorb some of the shock and account for uneven surfaces. The Maker does note, though, that there really isn’t any sort of suspension, so taking it outdoors may not be the best idea. There are also two drive wheels located underneath the bed, aligned in such a way that it can turn on point like a tank, along with a pair of high-powered DC motors, two Alltrax motor controllers and a 20:1 gear reducer.

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“My specific model is capable of handling up to 400 amps. In the motor control circuit there is also a solenoid for engaging the power, and a reverse contactor for reversing motor direction. Each motor has its own separate drive circuit and battery bank,” Sarafan explains. “Currently, the drive system is operating at 24V, but I can be boosted to 48V for increased speed. However, traveling any faster than it is currently capable is likely not a good idea. There are also two chargers for each battery bank onboard.”

Bedfellow is built around the mighty Arduino Mega (ATmega2560), which reads 12 ultrasonic sensors and interfaces with the Alltrax motor controllers. How the system itself works is fairly simple: the bed picks a random direction to move, checks to see if there is anything in the way, and begins to move if all clear. If there happens be an object in the way, it will randomly choose another direction and try again. There are four safety bumpers which are linked to the Arduino using interrupts. If they’re hit, Bedfellow immediately stops in its place and restarts its routine.

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Keep in mind, this project was admittedly done for sheer entertainment value and as a way to motivate Makers to go build something that’s fun, exciting and somewhat out of the ordinary. Sarafan explains, “Before you flood a thousand discussion boards talking about how pointless these instructions are, I just want to point out that I get it. No one is likely ever going to recreate this and, even if they wanted to, they probably don’t have access to all of the tools necessary to easily do so. This project uses a ton of expensive parts, is designed around a discontinued IKEA bed frame, takes forever to make, is largely cost prohibitive, and does not make sense to many highly rational individuals.”

Putting rationality aside, this would make for one heck of a bed racing vehicle! Intrigued? Check out the Maker’s exhaustive, 74-step breakdown of the build here

Okay, now everyone hop on!

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