This is not a broad "which system is best?" question, and not intended to start a religious war; I just want to know what's best for me.
I have come to realize that non-techie people don't respond too well to tech descriptions. Even documents and PowerPoints presentations can leave them puzzled, but if you show them something physical then their eyes light up and they see not only what is in front of them but also many further possibilities.
So, I want to make a demo or two.
I develop software. It either works with the customer's existing hardware or I buy them some off the shelf hardware, and then I develop some software to speak to their hardware, an ODBC database (usually MySql) to store data and a browser based application to control the hardware and analyze the data, generate reports, trigger alarms, etc.
The sort of systems we are talking of are all surprisingly similar when viewed at a high level: asset/employee/vehicle tracking; stock control; data acquisition (reading of temperature, pressure, voltage, etc).
I could go on, but it's basically data acquisition/telemetry/SCADA/process control. At the hardware end can be RDIF tags, GPS sensors, Modbus and the like, etc, etc
So, what's a good system for me to develop some demos? A hard requirement is that the robot should not just load a program and go away and execute it independently of the PC. The robot should have some sensors and should report values to the PC program (which will add them to the database) and should also accept commands from the PC program (even if I have to develop my own command language and have the robot program interpret it).
And what might be some good demos? - a maze runner, where I can show the current location on in a desktop or browser program, with the robot representing an employee or a fork-lift ? (or even a vehicle & I could show it on google maps) - maybe it could pick up RFID tags and scan them (or carry them to a scanner) to identify them to the PC app and then move them form room to room, with new tags appears at goods inwards & disappearing at shipping? That would simulate stock control. - maybe stick some bright light or heat source, etc, somewhere and have the robot sense it? - allow the robot to be controlled from the desktop app or browser
any other ideas?