Author Topic: Android SDK and robotics  (Read 17436 times)

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Offline Half ShellTopic starter

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Android SDK and robotics
« on: February 05, 2008, 11:44:16 AM »
I've recently been looking into the new Android SDK that will have significant support on a number of phones. I'm trying to figure out how to grab the USB or bluetooth connection from the phones on Android and use the cell phone as a low cost, super capable robot controller in sync with a micro controller.

The idea is the cell phone has built in GPS, cellular, wifi, and bluetooth capabilitiy, and a decent processor to run java aps. Throw in the use of the phone's camera and you have an etremely compact, good battery life robot controller.

Unfortunately I am yet to find how to control USB ports or bluetooth connections in the Android SDK, and since it is so new documentation is limited.  Has anyone had experience with this SDK yet?

http://code.google.com/android/#utm_campaign=en&utm_source=en-ha-na-us-bk&utm_medium=ha&utm_term=android

Offline bietz

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Re: Android SDK and robotics
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2008, 04:25:20 PM »
Yeah I thought about that use of Android too, and I think it really is gonna be a good robotics platform. The GPS (or cellular) stuff as well as all the other cool open libraries look very promising.

Actually, I think the guy behind Android, Andy Rubin, has a certain passion about robotics, and that's a good sign. The name's pretty fancy too!

I haven't had that much of a look at the SDK yet, but I'm pretty sure they'll enable the use of bluetooth connection at least (USB I'm not sure), and since it's open source, we'll hopefully get what we need ;)

But I've seen they've just redesigned part of the SDK, and delayed the famous contest deadline to April I think.

Anyway, I'll be happy to have a look at the SDK. Maybe one day we could even make an Android web-controlled SoR robot?   8)

BTW, has the iPhone's bluetooth been hacked or not yet? (I know they've made wired serial communication work though) Cuz with the hacker community, it's getting very hackable. And I'm pretty sure Apple's 'official' SDK won't be that open... I don't have an iPhone, but I'd love to get one... it's not going to be Android capable, but I think that hardware-software integration is more important on a cell phone, and that thing has got cool technology! From multitouch to the integrated accelerometer, it could be another awesome platform for robotics, if only communication was easier to hack...

Offline bietz

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Re: Android SDK and robotics
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2008, 04:37:58 PM »
For the iPhone and bluetooth, I think they actually did hack it: http://ericasadun.com/iPhoneDocs113/interface_bluetooth_device.html

Actually the Android documentation doesn't look that limited! They explain everything pretty well, with good examples, and sample apps. There's even a Hello, Android! I mean there's a lot worse than that! For the iPhone 'unofficial' SDK, I couldn't even find a little demo... (maybe it's just me or google that doesn't help me :-\ )

Offline Half ShellTopic starter

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Re: Android SDK and robotics
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2008, 04:42:54 PM »
I suggest a meeting of people who want to get together online in a live chat (IRC? AIM?) and discuss what we discover in the Android SDK and see if we can make a kick ass robot controller out of it.

My basic goal is to get some form of Serial input and output. Once you get that far it's a sinch getting micro controllers to control motors at that point.

Offline bietz

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Re: Android SDK and robotics
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2008, 04:52:59 PM »
Yeah why not, that would be cool! (even though I don't have that much time nor much expertise in Java, but it's a good chance to really learn it finally ;) )

Also, I live in France, so we might have some timing problems... but we can solve that.

Offline Half ShellTopic starter

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Re: Android SDK and robotics
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2008, 05:07:01 PM »
I too am incredibly busy, nor can I claim any level of expertise of Java, but it should be easier to learn if we push through together.

France is 6 hours ahead with London and Germany and a good portion of Europe if I'm not mistaken. I'm on the east coast of the US... Hmm...

Here's my suggestion for the meet up for everyone interested.

3:30 pm EST (8:30 PM UTC) on Thursday, February 7, 2008.
IRC channel chat.freenode.net, channel #AndroidSOR
#Android is the SDK chat if anyone was wondering where a good place to ask questions is.

Sound good to everyone?

Offline bietz

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Re: Android SDK and robotics
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2008, 05:12:24 PM »
For me, Thursday isn't possible... During the weekend, though, it can be almost any time.

Offline dunk

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Re: Android SDK and robotics
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2008, 05:16:50 PM »
do they actually have Android running on any production phones yet?
the last i herd of the project you still needed either a special test platform to run it on or a virtual platform on your PC.
the FAQ seems to suggest this is still the case: http://code.google.com/android/kb/general.html#runonphone

it's a pretty cool project though.
once you can actually buy a phone that it runs on i'll definitely be getting one.


dunk.

Offline Half ShellTopic starter

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Re: Android SDK and robotics
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2008, 05:23:33 PM »
As of right now it's the beta testing phone you mentioned or the virtual phone on the PC. The idea here is to start looking at it now so that when Android comes out we can take full advantage of it right away.

So everything we'd be talking about or trying would be emulated and merely doing in theory, but could act as a great learning project for a lot of us and maybe even have a cool outcome :-D.

As for claims that Rubin is a huge robotics fanatic - that is what inspired me. He has a wall of robot toys and figures and the idea of Android and robotics collided in my mind.

So again - PM me if you're making it, PM me if you want to but can't make the time. Of course the time will change if NO ONE can make it too :-D.

Offline Half ShellTopic starter

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Re: Android SDK and robotics
« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2008, 10:14:36 PM »
Time change!

Saturday, 6 PM EST, 11 PM UTC.
chat.freenode.org #AndroidSOR

PM me if the change is good/bad. Last non informative post in this thread.

Offline Half ShellTopic starter

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Re: Android SDK and robotics
« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2008, 11:03:44 AM »
The meeting ended up being just me and bietz. No worries though if you still want to join in.

We discussed what we've discovered about the SDK itself. For one, in the time we waited for the meeting to from announcement to meeting time a new version of the SDK was released - they weren't kiddnig when they said they would be constantly adding new features. This means anything we've discovered could be completely wrong in a month.

We found that the USB support on Android will be mostly limited to using the Android phone as a USB mass storage device rather than a regular USB port, which we could use as a kind of serial port to communicate with micro controllers with a breakout board.

After talking to a developer of Android and talking this over with Bietz it looks like we would have to go the route of bluetooth. This is of course much more expensive and harder to do. The cheapest board for integrating bluetooth that I could find was

http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/product_info.php?products_id=582

which is still a bit pricy. I shall update again when I have more to say on this.

 


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