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United States Patent Application 20190105548
Kind Code A1
Miller; Kenneth C. April 11, 2019

ROBOTIC CANNON WITH LASER

Abstract

A firing device is provided for launching and retrieving projectiles as well as firing laser weapons from a robotic platform. In robotic games or competitions the projectiles and laser weapons are fired at targets to score points. In a game of laser tag the laser and/or infrared weapons are fired at targets on competing robots to score points and/or to disable the targeted robot. The firing device has one, two, or three rotating launch wheels for launching spherical projectiles illustratively including ping pong balls, where the revolution speed of launch wheels may be varied to control projectile velocity and distance of travel. A deflector plate is used to change the trajectory of the projectile and/or the laser beam.


Inventors: Miller; Kenneth C.; (Aptos, CA)
Applicant:
Name City State Country Type

Miller; Kenneth C.

Aptos

CA

US
Family ID: 1000003766864
Appl. No.: 16/150707
Filed: October 3, 2018


Related U.S. Patent Documents

Application NumberFiling DatePatent Number
62567866Oct 4, 2017

Current U.S. Class: 1/1
Current CPC Class: A63B 63/00 20130101; A63B 71/06 20130101; A63B 2243/00 20130101; A63B 69/406 20130101
International Class: A63B 69/40 20060101 A63B069/40; A63B 63/00 20060101 A63B063/00; A63B 71/06 20060101 A63B071/06

Claims



1. A firing device for use with a robotic base, said firing device comprising: a hopper that holds a set of projectiles, said hopper in projectile communication with a proximal end of a guide tube or guide rails; one or more launch wheels adjacent to said guide tube or guide rails that make contact with a projectile from said set of projectiles to push said projectile out of an exit at a distal end of said guide tube or guide rails; and an adjustable deflector plate at the distal end of said guide tube or guide rails to determine a trajectory of a fired projectile.

2. The firing device of claim 1 further comprising a first diode that forms a first light beam emission.

3. The firing device of claim 2 wherein the first light beam emission identifies said diode relative to another diode.

4. The firing device of claim 2 wherein the first light beam emission is an infrared or visible wavelength.

5. The firing device of claim 2 wherein said first diode is a laser.

6. The firing device of claim 2 wherein said first diode is positioned to reflect the first light emission off of a reflective surface on said adjustable deflector plate to provide aiming.

7. The firing device of claim 2 further comprising a second diode having a second light beam emission of a different wavelength than the first light beam emission wherein the first light beam emission and the second light beam emission are substantially parallel.

8. The firing device of claim 7 wherein the first light emission is used for aiming and the second light emission is used for scoring identification.

9. The firing device of claim 2 wherein the first light emission is used for aiming and for scoring and the first light beam emission comprises an infrared wavelength.

10. The firing device of claim 2 wherein the first light emission is used for aiming and for scoring and the first light beam emission comprises a wavelength visible to an unaided, normal human eye.

11. The firing device of claim 1 further comprising a singulator to hold and release individual projectiles from said set of projectiles.

12. The firing device of claim 1 wherein the one or more launch wheels are made of foam, rubber, or other elastic material.

13. The firing device of claim 1 further comprising a set of launch motors that control revolution speed of the one or more launch wheels, where the revolution speed of the set of launch wheels are varied to control projectile velocity and distance of travel of the projectile along with said adjustable deflector plate controlling projectile trajectory of travel.

14. The firing device of claim 1 further comprising a set of fans/blowers integrated with a set of launch wheel motors to create airflow for or to enhance the movement of said projectiles into contact with the one or more launch wheels.

15. The firing device of claim 1 wherein said robotic base further comprises a plurality of wheels, rollers, or treads to allow movement of the robotic base, and a connection point that serves as an interface to a coupling of said firing device.

16. The firing device of claim 1 wherein said set of projectiles are ping pong balls.

17. The firing device of claim 1 wherein said robotic base or said firing device further comprises a laser detector target for laser tag.

18. The firing device of claim 1 further comprising a system controller that controls said robotic base and said firing device, said system controller being at least one of a personal computer, tablet, or a smartphone.

19. The firing device of claim 1 further comprising an attachable handle with a trigger for operation independent of said robotic base.

20. The firing device of claim 1 further comprising the robotic base, the robotic base configured as a wheeled toy.
Description



CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application claims priority benefit of U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 62/567,866 filed 4 Oct. 2017; the contents of which are hereby incorporated by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The present invention in general relates to robots and robotic games, and in particular to a projectile launching device with a laser beam generator.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] Most entertainment-themed robots are intended for use in single-purpose games where the robots may push each other around (sumo), destroy each other (e.g., BattleBots, RobotWars, etc.), or play some form of soccer (push/roll/kick a ball into a goal). Some entertainment-themed robots have incorporated additional entertainment features (e.g., ability to play music or record video). However, there are currently no entertainment-themed robots that provide for multiple and interchangeable forms of cannon, projectile launchers, or laser beam generators for laser tag. Furthermore, there is currently no ability to aim projectiles or laser beams during game play.

[0004] Thus, there exists a need for an attachment device that connects to a robotic base for firing projectiles, and for generating and targeting a laser beam during game play and laser tag. There further exists a need for the ability to fire and control the direction of projectiles and laser beams in angles between horizontal and vertical for various robotic games.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0005] A firing device is provided for use with a robotic base. The firing device includes a hopper that holds a set of projectiles, the hopper is in projectile communication with a proximal end of a guide tube or guide rails. One or more launch wheels adjacent to the guide tube or guide rails make contact with a projectile from the set of projectiles to push the projectile out of an exit at a distal end of the guide tube or guide rails. An adjustable deflector plate at the distal end of the guide tube or guide rails is used to determine the trajectory of a fired projectile.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0006] FIGS. 1A-1C are a series of perspective views of a robotic base that may be joined to a projectile launcher and targeting/gaming laser in accordance with embodiments of the invention;

[0007] FIGS. 2A and 2B are a perspective view and side view, respectively, of a projectile launcher and targeting/gaming laser that may be fitted to the robotic base of FIGS. 1A-1C in accordance with embodiments of the invention;

[0008] FIG. 3A is a cross sectional view of FIG. 2B with a singulator in a ready hold position and a deflector plate set for a vertical trajectory according to embodiments of the invention;

[0009] FIG. 3B is a cross sectional view of FIG. 2B with a singulator in a release position and a deflector plate set for a horizontal trajectory according to embodiments of the invention;

[0010] FIGS. 4A-4C are a series of cross sectional views of FIG. 2B illustrating the aiming of the laser and projectile with the deflector plate according to embodiments of the invention;

[0011] FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a projectile hopper joined to a projectile launcher mounted to a robotic base in accordance with embodiments of the invention; and

[0012] FIG. 6 is a cross sectional view of FIG. 5 in accordance with embodiments of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0013] The present invention has utility as a firing device for launching and retrieving projectiles as well as firing laser weapons from a robotic platform. In robotic games or competitions the projectiles and laser weapons are fired at targets to score points. In a game of laser tag the laser and/or infrared weapons are fired at targets on competing robots to score points and/or to disable the targeted robot.

[0014] Embodiments of the firing device have one, two, or three rotating launch wheels for launching spherical projectiles illustratively including ping pong balls, where the revolution speed of launch wheels may be varied to control projectile velocity and distance of travel. In inventive embodiments a deflector plate may be used to change the trajectory of the projectile and/or the laser beam. In inventive embodiments the laser may be used as a pointer for aiming the projectiles at targets. Embodiments of the deflector plate may always engage (no transition from non-contact) with projectiles and the laser beam for instantaneous control and increased accuracy (very shallow contact angles result in reduced angular trajectory control). A set of fans/blowers may be integrated with the launch wheel motors to create airflow for moving projectiles into or to enhance contact with the launch wheels. Furthermore, the launch wheels may be tilted from horizontal to enable constant engagement of the deflector plate with a projectile or laser beam. Embodiments of the deflector plate provide the capability to fire at any angle from horizontal to vertical (straight up).

[0015] As used herein, "laser" in the context of robotic photon pulse communication includes both monochromatic and collimated emission as those that are polychromatic, not wholly collimated, or a combination thereof, as have conventionally been used in the context of "laser tag".

[0016] Referring now to the figures, FIGS. 1A-1C are a series of perspective views of an embodiment of an inventive robot base 10 that may be joined to a firing device 20 as shown in FIG. 2A. The robot base 10 has a plurality of wheels, rollers or treads 12 to control the movement of the robot base 10. In a specific inventive embodiment fans mounted to the bottom of the robot base 10 may create an airflow for the base to hover and move across a playing surface. The robot base 10 may also have a coupling or connection point 14 that serves as an interface to the firing device 20 of FIGS. 2A and 2B. An on/off switch 16 may also be on the robot base 10. In a specific embodiment, an attachable handle with a trigger may be provided for operation of the firing device 22 independent of a robotic base. The firing device 20 may be completely independent of the robot base and is amenable to be mounted on a stationary turret or a hand-held grip/trigger/battery.

[0017] FIGS. 2A and 2B are a perspective view and a side view, respectively, of a firing device 20 mounted on the robot base 10 with a coupling 64. It is noted that the plurality of wheels 12 are not shown in FIGS. 2A-4C for visual clarity. Inventive embodiments of the firing device 20 have a projectile holding tube 24 that holds a set of projectiles 22. The projectiles 22 are held in place prior to firing by a singulator 48 as shown in FIG. 3A with the singulator in the ready/hold position. The projectile holding tube 24 feeds the projectiles 22 to a projectile guide tube or guide rail 26 where the launch wheels 30 make contact with the projectiles 22 to push the projectiles 22 forward and via the tube or rail 26 and into the deflector plate 36. The launch motor wheels 30 may be made of foam, rubber, or other elastic material and are driven by launch motors 28. The launch motors 28 may be controlled by launch motor controls 32. A fan blower/sucker system 34 that may be integral with launch wheel motors 28 to create airflow for moving projectiles 22 into the launch motor wheels 30.

[0018] FIG. 3A is a cross sectional view of FIG. 2B with the singulator 48 in a ready hold position and a deflector plate 36 set for a vertical trajectory. The angle of the deflector plate 36 is set via the deflector motor/gearbox 38 that is controlled by a deflector motor controller 44. The deflector motor/gearbox 38 drives a deflector worm 42 that actuates a deflector worm wheel 40 that is directly connected to the deflector plate 36. A deflector encoder/screw orientation sensor (2X) 46 provides electronic feedback for deflector plate position/angle

[0019] FIG. 3B is a cross sectional view of FIG. 2B with the singulator 48 in a release position and the deflector plate 36 set for a horizontal trajectory. When the singulator 48 is in a release position, one of the projectiles 22 is free to move down the projectile guide tube or guide rail 26 towards the launch motor wheels 30. The remaining projectiles 22 are held back by the singulator 48. The position of the singulator 48 is controlled by the singulator control electronics 52 via a singulator solenoid 50. A system controller/microprocessor 62 controls the robotic base 10 as well as the functions of the firing device 20. A power source 60 illustratively including a rechargeable battery powers both the robotic base 10 and the firing device 20. Alternatively, both the robotic base 10 and the firing device 20 could individually contain separate power sources. As best seen in FIG. 3A, a sensor 37 (or sensors) on or connected to the deflector plate 36 may be used to detect pressure and/or location of impact of the projectile 22. The sensor 37 may help to monitor the system power and accuracy of the projectiles during launch.

[0020] The "laser beam" 56 may be generated by a diode 54 and is deflected off the surface 58 of the deflector plate 36, where the position of the deflector plate 36 determines the incidence angle of the laser beam 56 and the angle of the deflected beam 56D. In a game of conventional laser tag, the laser beam 56D is aimed at a laser detector target 66. A diode, acting as the laser is positioned to reflect light emission therefrom off of a reflective surface on the adjustable deflector plate 36 to provide aiming for a projectile or a laser scoring weapon.

[0021] The wavelength of the laser beams 56 and 56D are in the infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum Typically, an infrared wavelength is used in conventional laser tag scoring with each pulse carrying a characteristic in terms of either duration, wavelength profile, or both so as to attribute a scoring hit to a particular diode source. A visible light pulse, also typically not laser light, is also incident with the infrared wavelength to provide a user visualized sighting tracer. According to the present invention, a wholly infrared scoring system is used in some embodiments for both aiming and scoring, while in still other embodiments, the tracer wavelength is visible to an unaided, normal human eye and is used for aiming, scoring, or both such functions.

[0022] Laser detector targets 66 may be mounted on moving objects illustratively including robots or on stationary objects. In an inventive embodiment targets may be mounted to people. It is noted that separate lasers may be used for a targeting pointer and for use in a game of laser tag as a shooting laser.

[0023] FIGS. 4A-4C are a series of cross sectional views of FIG. 2B illustrating the aiming of the laser 56 and trajectory of the projectile 22 with the deflector plate 36 in various angular orientations. In FIG. 4A the laser beam 56D and/or projectile 22D is deflected straight upward at a 0-degree angle from vertical. In FIG. 4B the laser beam 56D and/or projectile 22D is deflected at a 45-degree angle from vertical. In FIG. 4C the laser beam 56D and/or projectile 22D is projected directly outward at a 90-degree angle from vertical.

[0024] FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a projectile hopper catch net 70 joined to a projectile launcher firing device 20' mounted to a robotic base 10 with a coupling 64. FIG. 6 is a cross sectional view of FIG. 5. It is noted that the plurality of wheels 12 are not shown in FIGS. 2-4C for visual clarity. Inventive embodiments of the firing device 20' are configured to receive projectiles 22 from the feed ramp 72 that holds a set of projectiles 22. The projectiles 22 are held in place prior to firing by a singulator 48 as shown in FIG. 6 with the singulator in the ready/hold position. The projectile feed ramp 72 feeds the projectiles 22 to a projectile guide tube or guide rail 26 where the launch wheels 30 make contact with the projectiles 22 to push the projectiles 22 forward and via the tube or rail 26 and into the deflector plate 36. The launch motor wheels 30 may be made of foam, rubber, or other elastic material and are driven by launch motors 28. The launch motors 28 may be controlled by launch motor controls 32. A fan blower/sucker system 34 that may be integral with launch wheel motors 28 to create airflow for moving or to enhance movement of projectiles 22 into the launch motor wheels 30.

[0025] In specific inventive embodiments the catch net 70 may be used for catching projectiles 22 from other robotic or stationary launchers. In this manner, a gaming player may reload their supply of projectiles 22. In addition, game players may play catch with other players using the catch net 70. Furthermore, in specific inventive embodiments projectiles 22 may be collected or reloaded from projectile collection systems from external robotic or stationary loading stations (shown as cylinder 74 in FIG. 5. In specific inventive embodiments the projectile collection system 74 may be on a robot (robotic arms, vacuum, etc.) for re-loading.

[0026] Each of the aforementioned components, sensors, electronics, used in the robotic base 10 and firing device 20 may communicate via the Internet, Bluetooth.RTM., WiFi, wire, or a combination thereof to embodiments of control devices (personal computer (PC), tablet, smartphone, etc.).

[0027] Any patents or publications mentioned in this specification are herein incorporated by reference to the same extent as if each individual publication was specifically and individually indicated to be incorporated by reference.

[0028] The foregoing description is illustrative of particular embodiments of the invention, but is not meant to be a limitation upon the practice thereof.

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