Comparing batteries to generators as power sources for use with mobile robotics

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8 Scopus citations


This paper considers the scaling principles associated with the power and energy density of batteries and generators as applied to mobile robots and similarly-sized vehicles. We seek to identify, based on present technology, the size range at which a generator inclusive of a direct current electric motor, gearbox, and internal combustion engine can be effectively used to replace modern batteries. Models were derived to scale each component of the generator as a function of power, mass, efficiency, and speed. For a given power, energy, or mass requirement, these models illustrate that generators based on conventional technology are ill-suited for smaller robots. The results indicate that there is an intermediate robot size above which a hybrid generator/battery architecture is desirable. Using these scaling principles with modest extensions of existing battery technologies, it is also possible to infer the near-future performance of robot power technology and thus illustrate whether the generator-versus-battery tradeoff will shift toward or away from a hybrid robot topology for smaller vehicle systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)130-138
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Power Sources
StatePublished - Aug 15 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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