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Author Topic: can a noob build a telepresence robot?  (Read 4437 times)

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Offline metalbotTopic starter

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can a noob build a telepresence robot?
« on: August 19, 2008, 03:07:34 AM »
So I suddenly have the itch to build a telepresence robot.
I have never built anything resembling a robot before, but I dream in machine code, so my design is likely to emphasize custom software solutions over custom hardware approaches.
Here's the idea. Feel free to tell me how insane I am, or give tips as to how to proceed, etc.

The goal of the robot is to be a limited version of me, 2000 miles away from me.
It would have some mobility, cameras, mikes, speaker, and a screen at eye level to render my face.
I would not be able to do any maintenance on the robot for months at a time, although I could rely on some folks' benevolence to handle minor tasks if needed.

The robot would have almost no autonomous behavior, and would be remote controlled through a wifi network available in the entire space.
It would navigate in an office environment (flat ground and elevators at least. possibly doors and stairs later)
It would need to be able to recharge its batteries easily (probably by reaching a specific location, then it's roomba-style contacts or maybe some nifty induction thingy.)

So far, I'm leaning toward a setup with 4 wheels, a platform holding the batteries and the embedded computer, a pole to bring the I/O stuff to head-level, and the cam/mike/speaker/screen gears attached to the top of the pole.
That doesn't account for pushing an elevator button, but the space will be shared with many people, so waiting/nagging would eventually get the desired result.
(although if there's an easy way to get a little arm in there, I'd definitely go for it.)

I'm leaning toward an ARM setup running linux with various off the shelf components for the I/O stuff.

The skeleton, wheels, battery and charging systems are still very undefined.

That's all I've got right now. I'm planning to take my time building it, in part to make up for the lack of domain familiarity.

All advice is welcome, although I'm hoping I won't get too many "stick to your compiler, code monkey" replies.  ;)

Offline Ro-Bot-X

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Re: can a noob build a telepresence robot?
« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2008, 05:41:22 AM »
You thoght this well, I think you can pull it off no problem. For a hardware model, take a look at The LEAF Project here: http://leafproject.org/.

To make it wireless controlled through internet it's easier than to make it autonomous. Use a PC running whatever SO you are comfortable with, a webcam with a streaming server, an audio messeging application and a controll application. The controll application will have to talk to a microcontroller through USB or Serial, that will be the interface with the hardware: motors, servos (for an arm, camera pan/tilt, etc.) and sensors (for proximity detection, battery level indicator, etc.). Also the PC software will be responsible for displaying on the screen your face and animate it. This is the basic layout, once you commit to an exact hardware platform, we can give you more specific advice.

An other example of this kind of setup would be the ER1 kit, from Evolution Robotics, unfortunately not on sale anymore.
Check out the uBotino robot controller!

Offline dunk

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Re: can a noob build a telepresence robot?
« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2008, 08:26:08 AM »
i have built something similar to what you are describing. http://mrdunk.googlepages.com/lmbot
i'm also in the process of building a more advanced version. http://mrdunk.googlepages.com/

if i could give you one piece of advice it would be "start simple".
build a simplified telepresence bot first that has only the bare minimum functionality (and time investment).
i guarantee you will learn a lot of things building a functional prototype that will drastically change the way you want to build your final project.


dunk.

Offline metalbotTopic starter

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Re: can a noob build a telepresence robot?
« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2008, 08:19:20 PM »
Thanks guys for the encouraging replies and the links.

I sense there's wisdom in the idea of starting simple.
I'm probably going to forego the human-height frame and the charging system in a first step, as well as some of the I/O stuff.
Finding a good set of gears, platform, microcontroller, battery and an embedded ARM setup with all the right drivers is probably going to be challenging enough to start with.

MrDunk, your robot is indeed rather similar to what I have in mind, except you actually built something that works, and you're using custom circuit boards, which are probably outside of my comfort zone.

I'm going to put together a more concrete and hopefully realistic plan, then post it here in a few days for your reviews.

Offline airman00

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Re: can a noob build a telepresence robot?
« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2008, 08:26:47 PM »
My plan for you

Laptop ( or mini Pc) connected to Phidgets Interface connected to motors

Control laptop through LogMeIn and you're done
Check out the Roboduino, Arduino-compatible board!


Link: http://curiousinventor.com/kits/roboduino

www.Narobo.com

Offline brantlew

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Re: can a noob build a telepresence robot?
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2011, 03:48:32 PM »
Yes you can.

I'm a noob and here is my first effort which was much easier than I would have ever imagined.

http://teledev.blogspot.com/2011/07/diy-telepresence-robot-part-1.html


Offline Sylvestre

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Re: can a noob build a telepresence robot?
« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2011, 10:32:43 PM »
I highly recommend using a drone cell.  You just can't use the drone cell for your cameras

Offline brantlew

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Re: can a noob build a telepresence robot?
« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2011, 11:44:37 PM »
Why?  What would be the advantage of a separate data channel if you already need a WiFi channel for the camera?


I highly recommend using a drone cell.  You just can't use the drone cell for your cameras

Offline Sylvestre

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Re: can a noob build a telepresence robot?
« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2011, 11:51:00 PM »
I guess your correct, but you could just get a drone cell and a wireless camera and you'd be set.  Your method is probably a lot more cost efficient

Offline Soeren

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Re: can a noob build a telepresence robot?
« Reply #9 on: August 06, 2011, 03:52:45 AM »
Yes you can.
Well, after all he had 3 years of practice since he posted ;)
Regards,
Søren

A rather fast and fairly heavy robot with quite large wheels needs what? A lot of power?
Please remember...
Engineering is based on numbers - not adjectives

 


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