Playing with apps on an Android phone is fun, even though I use an iPhone. Building your own apps, must be even more fun. But what about using the phone to operate a moving, talking robot? Tim Heath and Ryan Hickman have done exactly that.

The robot they recently finished building — Truckbot — is still relatively simple. It’s got an HTC G1 phone for a brain, riding on top of a chassis with some wheels and treads. All it can do is roll around on a tabletop, turn and head off in a specified direction.  It can use the phone’s compass to make itself point to the south. But the duo have much more ambitious plans in mind.

“I knew I could build this thing. I just needed a phone,” explains Heath, a Python web engineer. He posted on various e-mail lists looking for one, including that of Hacker Dojo, a Mountain View, California, hackerspace. Hickman, who works for Google’s Doubleclick division, but has no connections to the Android people, saw Heath’s pleas.

They got together and started building. The first robot they built was made out of plastic. They just finished constructing their second robot, called Truckbot, which is lighter and cardboard-based.

They could have purchased the pricey $175 Oomlout kit, which includes wheels, motors and an Arduino-based brain. Hickman and Heath opted for making their own chassis. Here’s a full list of parts they used:

$16 Bare bones Arduino
$3 Micro servo
$0.25 Hex inverter (handled 3.3v to 5v conversion)

$4 HTC USB breakout board
$3 Mini breadboard
$4 miscellaneous cardboard, strap ties, wires, rear wheel

Total: $30 (plus shipping). To be fair, Heath and Hickman had access to a local workshop, the Tech Shop in Menlo Park, California, which helped tremendously in terms of having the tools to build some parts, like laser-cutting the cardboard chassis.

Their robot is more impressive for its potential than what it currently does. “Unlike most people out there,” says Hickman,  “we don’t want to use the phone as a remote control. Rather, it becomes the brain of the operation.”

This means they could utilize every hardware and software component of an Android phone, programming the bot to avoid obstacles, recognize faces and voices, pinpoint its location and go places. An Arduino board, which basically serves as a software-hardware link, is not smart enough to handle that, but an Android phone can.

For example, Arduino can detect when the robot bumps into something, but has to rely on the phone to decide on what to do next.

So I cant be the only person who thinks this is pretty amazing?

original story found @wired

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
WooThemes - Quality Themes, Great Support