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Author Topic: Project to create a robot to benefit mankind  (Read 2437 times)

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Offline AntTopic starter

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Project to create a robot to benefit mankind
« on: September 21, 2008, 03:41:41 AM »
Here's a project which would be fun to work on and would have a huge benefit to mankind. It involves making some simple robots. It will be lots of fun because not only will we be working on robots, but we will work on them together. Even if you don't have the money for parts, you'll be able to work on robots and other things with us.

First a little about why it would be a huge benefit to mankind. This is intended to be a way to bring open source "gift economy" into the world. That may be difficult to picture though, so try this: There are a whole lot of people in the world today who would like to work on the problems in the world. One of the biggest things preventing those eople from working on such problems is distance. It is hard to work on a problem in Africa when you live in America. We can fairly easily solve that problem with some simple web controlled robots.

People are destroying the soil and water by farming with chemicals. Much of the land is already almost destroyed, but that land can be reconditioned with proper farming techniques, so that it becomes productive again. There are lots of people who know those techniques and would love to teach them, but what prevents them is that they do not have the money to travel, or they don't want to travel and live in those places. We can make it easy for them to teach people those techniques so that the land becomes productive again.

The first project I would like to work on is a web controlled robotic arm, with some simple electronic test equipment, which we will use to work on electronics projects together. It will need a program to control movement via internet. It will need a web cam. It will need some web controlled electronic test equipment. It will need pretty good accuracy to do pick and place of components. The software will need the ability to record commands, so they can be played back to make additional units. We also would like to be able to edit those recordings.

Once we have that, we'll have much of the same hardware and software we'll need for farming robots, but we'll also have the ability to get more people working on projects together. We'd be able to automatically assemble boards for those who want them. There'd be little or no need to have electronics test equipment at home, 'cause you could do the testing over the Internet. It would allow people in poor countries to work on robots and other electronic projects.

I expect it'll cost a few thousand dollars in parts, and I believe I can pay for that.

So... any volunteers who'd like to work on this project?

Much of the work has already been done, which we may be able to benefit from. I saw one robot that is web controlled, but it was extremely slow (half second delay). The delay is a problem, but it can be dealt with fairly easily with more intelligent programming. The one I saw had simple buttons that you push a button and then you wait till it moves a step, which is just extremely poorly thought out. I'd like to avoid using purchased modules or purchased software, 'cause it makes cost per unit much higher. We want cost per unit to be very low.

Also, we are working on setting up an inventor's club, if anyone is interested, let me know about that as well.

Tony

Offline SciTech02

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Re: Project to create a robot to benefit mankind
« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2008, 08:01:17 PM »
I'll be the first to say that I think your idea is good, interesting and should be fairly easy to implement.  I can't volunteer for this project (I am in no position to  :-\ ), however, I can give you advice.

First, do plenty of research.  There is a massive amount of information, not only this website, but the entire web.  It seems like this is not the first time an idea like this has been suggested.

Also, most, if not all, the hardware/software needed are already available.  For example, you can buy various robot arms made by lynxmotion or crustcrawler at prices similar to other robot kits.  If these are not big enough, you could try to use an old industrial robot arm (I have no idea how to do this, but there is always a way).  As for the sensors, I would suggest you research roborealm; this is a computer-vision program that alows you to use a webcam for a sensor (also read the computer vision tutorial on this site, very helpful). 

Next, will these robots be remote-controlled or mostly/fully autonomous?  You said they would playback pre-recorded movements, which makes it more RC than autonomous.  If this is true, it would be fairly easy to program (you would'nt have to develop complex algorithims for the robot to handle situations, its just remote-controlled).

Finally, this is more of a general statement, but could you create a series of videos showing how to use better farming techniques?  It seems more practical for a third-world country that has internet to watch informational videos, or take web courses, or even practice these methods on a simulator/video game.  This advantage allows you to use surplus electronics that require no new development to work.  I know farming is not the only thing you wish to show, but it seems simpler and cheaper, while having the same end results.

These are only just suggestions, but I hope this helps one way or another.
Check out the Evolution Robotics, ER1 robot, and ERSP Resource Page: http://www.societyofrobots.com/member_tutorials/node/336

Offline airman00

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Re: Project to create a robot to benefit mankind
« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2008, 06:41:14 AM »
There isnt any robot that has the same abilities as people. From what I understand you want to make wifi robot farm equipment? Two problems for that : poor countries do not have wifi and electricity (the desert in Africa has no wifi), and the countries where you ship the robots to will probably scrap the robots for parts and then sell it

What you are better off doing is having a couple of webcams set up ( no robot arms and stuff needed) and then teach the people how things are done. Instead of having a robot arm over there demonstrate how its done , send a video of how its done and basically be a support hotline for them.

Question: Why did you decide to embark on this challenge? Is it only ambition , or is there perhaps something more?
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Offline AntTopic starter

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Re: Project to create a robot to benefit mankind
« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2008, 01:55:59 PM »
That lynxmotion is pretty cheap, but for electronics design work it looks like it lacks accuracy. According to their number for angle accuracy, it comes out to 0.012 inch position accuracy, but there'd also be other factors that'd add into that to make it probably around 0.020 inches. Still, might be good for some things.

The farm thing is a later project. The farm thing wouldn't necessarily have to be made to be sent to poor countries. It could be sent to rich countries where there are people who teach proper farming, for people in other countries to learn from remotely. During the process, video would be recorded which could be made into movies which teach farming.

Anyway, the primary or first project is a robot system which will allow people to do electronics design and testing work via Internet. I'm thinking an XYZ table would be the cheapest and best way to do that, rather than an arm. It'd probably have small arms on it though.

As to why I chose this project... I've done a lot of thinking of what is needed to solve the major problems in the world today, the problems of poverty, global warming, population, and the threat of nuclear war. Those problems are in the process of being solved by millions of people all over the world. Millions of people are working on little parts of the solution, some knowingly and others not knowing. I'm basically trying to fill in an area that is pretty much left out.

I believe our current system of society was an ok system for a while, but it is no longer capable of delivering the needs of mankind. The current system simply can't handle the current population, so now we need a new system of society, and I am working on that. I don't have money, so I have to work on it intelligently, to pick the task which with my limited resources is capable of having the necessary effect to bring the new system of society into existence.

Mankind goes from one system of society to another, it is simply a process of evolution. I'm just trying to speed up that process a little, 'cause we have so little time to make this next step.

Tony

Offline SciTech02

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Re: Project to create a robot to benefit mankind
« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2008, 11:29:04 PM »
I understand and even agree with what you say.  Even if people think what you want to do is pointless, every thing one of us does could make a difference; size maters not.

The XYZ table is a much better route; you could use 1 motor to control each axis and have webcam(s), tools and/or other sensors in a fixed position for working with an object on said table. 

If you really want to do this and have no robot experience, you should try to build the $50 robot or buy the BOE-Bot (a robot kit made by parallax) first.  After tinkering/learning with that, you could use parts, or more importantly knowledge, to create your telepresence workstation.  If you don't want to go that route, you should become fairly fluent in a programing language, so you could create actual programs (and get a better idea on what and how to accomplish your goal).  Either way, you'll have to choose if your robot is going to be microcontroller based or PC based.  Research this, and other subjects, and you can figure out what to do, buy the parts, and finally build it (you could do it yourself if you wanted; help is nice but not allways needed).

I hope this helps you and good luck with your project.  :)
Check out the Evolution Robotics, ER1 robot, and ERSP Resource Page: http://www.societyofrobots.com/member_tutorials/node/336

Offline AntTopic starter

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Re: Project to create a robot to benefit mankind
« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2008, 12:32:45 AM »
I've got enough experience in similar areas that building the $50 robot wouldn't help me. However, I do like the idea of a preliminary step. I want to get something up and running ASAP, get something finished and working before moving on. A smaller step that I can be comfortable that I can reach without getting discouraged.

Therefore, I'm going to be building a Rep Rap. Actually, I'm going to redesign the mechanics, and use the Rep Rap electronics and software. So basically once I get the mechanics designed, which I'm working on now, it'll be like building a kit. It'll probably take less than two weeks to put it all together, once I get to that point.

For those who don't know what a Rep Rap is, here's a link http://reprap.org/bin/view/Main/WebHome

Tony

 


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