Find the value for a 90 degrees turn using binary search Pro Preview

How to search for an unknown value with the fewest possible tries.

  • #423
  • 27 Apr 2017
  • 6:27

The Problem

Often you will search for a motor rotation value in order to achieve some desired position of the robot. This process could take a lot of experiments and time if not approached structurally.

The approach - simple

Take a range of two values and make a test using their average. If the test is not satisfying, test again with a new range, based on the last test.

The algorithm

Phase one - find a value that is lower than the desired result and a value that is higher than the desired result.

Phase two - make a test using the average of the low and high values. In order to find the average, add the low to the high and divide the result by two.

Phase three - if the result is lower than the desired, change the initial lower value to the new average value and repeat phase two.
If the result is higher than the desired, change the initial high value to the new average value and repeat phase two.


Find the value in degrees for a pivot turn to 90 degrees.

Step 1 (Phase one)
We measure that 360 is too low and 720 is too high.

Step 2 (Phase two)
The average value of the range from 360 to 720 is (360+720) / 2 = 540.
We test and see that 540 is too much.

Step 3 (Phase three)
Change 720 (initial high) to 540 degrees.

Step 4 (Phase two repeated with the new values)
The average value of the range from 360 to 540 is (360+540) / 2 = 450.
We test and see that 450 is too low.

Step 5 (Phase three repeated)
Change 360 (initial low) to 450 degrees.

Step 6 (Phase two repeated with new values)
The average value of the range from 450 to 540 is (450+540) / 2 = 495.
We test and see that 495 is good!


It looks too long and difficult now.

But if we tried every 10 degrees, we would test 540, 530, 520, 510, 500 and 490 in order to find the value that we needed.

The direct approach testing every 10 degrees from 540 degrees downward takes 6 tests, whereas the binary search in the area from 360 to 720 degrees takes only three tests to find the correct value!


Turning with the wheel to 90 degrees does not result in turning the whole robot to 90 degrees. It's just the wheel. Again I'll set the wheel like this. The wheel turns to 90 degrees but not the whole robot. What we should do in this video is find the value for this construction for this wheel, for this robot of how much should we rotate the wheel so that the whole robot rotates to 90 degrees. In the software, I have the computer right beside me we have a program for turning this wheel to 360 degrees and I'll just start the program. 360 degrees with this wheel is not enough for turning the robot to the right - it's slightly to the right but not exactly to the right. What we can do is to experiment and to find the correct value. How do we find this value? There are many different ways. We can just try with 370 degrees or 380 degrees but that's kind of a slow process. What we can do is until we have the experience and you'll know most of the values by heart by the end of this course but for now what we can do is just double this value and set the value to 720 degrees. Like this.

So, 720 degrees is too much. We rotate the robot but not exactly to the right. It's to the right and then it continues forward. But what you can see is that 360 results in the robot positioned like this, 720 results in the robot positioned like this. So, it's somewhere in the middle and we can take the exact middle between 360 and 720. And the exact middle is 540. And if we set this to 540 degrees,

we see that it kind of looks like exactly to the right. Again.

But it's probably more. Exactly to the right would be like this. This process of finding the correct value is called Binary search. And it's very famous algorithm for seraching different values when we don't know them. And it's basically for searching in an array but these are details. With just 2 tries we find a value that's very close to the real one. How do we find if 540 degrees is the real one? What we should do is to make this robot turn to 540 degrees 4 times. And if it just rotates, then we know that the value of 540 is correct. How do we do this in the program?

We have our block - 540 and we must execute this block 4 times. Or even 10 times but 10 is too much. Let's start with 4. What we can do is we can take another block - Large block place it here then we can configure it for a number of degrees - for 540. But as you see this is kind of a slow process. What we can do is to copy. We can select this block, click edit > copy and then click edit > paste. And we have the same block here with the exact same configurations. But we can also do another trick. We can hold CTRL and move.

And this makes another copy of the same block and now we have 4 different blocks. And I'll just download and run these 4 different blocks.

The robot does 4 turns to 540 degrees. If each of these is exactly right then at the end it should arrive at the same position that it started. Because it will do a full circle. But as you saw 540 is a little too much.

At the end the robot is not facing exactly you on the camera and we use the marker, it moves slightly after the marker. So, the correct value is somewhere slightly less than 540 degrees. And we'll leave this to you. Try to find the correct value for making the whole robot turn to exactly 90 degrees and when you do 4 turns it should return to the same position.

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This Tutorial is used in the following courses and lessons

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