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Author Topic: Evolution Robotics, ER1 Robot, and ERSP Thread.  (Read 44745 times)

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Offline SciTech02Topic starter

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Evolution Robotics, ER1 Robot, and ERSP Thread.
« on: November 22, 2008, 08:23:41 PM »
The reason I created this thread is because the ER1 robot is officially dead to the company that created it.  The original forums are gone, there is no more customer service, and you can no longer buy one (except off eBay).  Finding in-depth information about it on the web is nearly impossible, as most websites dedicated to it were forgoten about when support was terminated.  The few people that still own, use, and customize them are scattered across the world wide web.  Some have moved on to other projects, while a few others (like me) may have discovered the ER1 robot for the first time and have no place to discuss it.  That is the reason I created this thread; to create a place where we can discuss, ask questions, give answers, and document the ER1 robot, ERSP and any other related concept.  Another reason is to bring the scattered ER1 users together, so we may better answer each others questions and display what can be done with the ER1, ERSP, etc.

At the time of this post's writting, there are two ER1 robot owners on this forum; me (SciTech02) and Ro-Bot-X.  We are still developing ours, but the information we've gathered and shared is large.  We will now discuss our ER1s here.  If there are any ER1 robot owners or anyone interested, feel free to post and let us know that there are still interested people out there.

I'll start the thread with a short summary of my ER1.  It is currently in an original, unmodified state (no accessories, yet).  I have developed a pathfinding program for it that is written in Python, uses an A* (A-star) based algorithm, and uses the RCC API commands.  Here's a link with more details: http://www.societyofrobots.com/robotforum/index.php?topic=5666.0 My current goal is to create a map of my entire house, so it can find its way to any location in it and find a place to charge its batteries (an eventual docking port).
« Last Edit: November 22, 2008, 08:33:23 PM by SciTech02 »
Check out the Evolution Robotics, ER1 robot, and ERSP Resource Page: http://www.societyofrobots.com/member_tutorials/node/336

Offline wdbarnwell

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Re: Evolution Robotics, ER1 Robot, and ERSP Thread.
« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2008, 10:40:33 PM »
Hello,

 I've been an ER1 Robot owner since 2002. I own 2 and one is still in the box and never been used. The ER1 that I use looks nothing like an ER1. It has a rotating tosro two grippers, shoulder, elbow servos and pan & tilt servos, numerous machined parts, including a half track system. Yes I'm lucky to have my own personal machine shop at home. Would be glad to upload pictures if I can. 

Offline Ro-Bot-X

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Re: Evolution Robotics, ER1 Robot, and ERSP Thread.
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2008, 07:12:19 AM »
Wellcome and thanks for sharing!

You can upload pictures at the end of your post if you click on the Additional Options link below the text box, then attach the files from your HDD.

Here are the 2 versions of the robot I have built over the years, but now I'm back to the basic form until I'll get it to move again:
Check out the uBotino robot controller!

Offline SciTech02Topic starter

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Re: Evolution Robotics, ER1 Robot, and ERSP Thread.
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2008, 08:28:46 PM »
Excellent!  Your robot sounds very interesting, with all of those add-ons and such (especially if you can't tell it was originally an ER1 robot).  I am wondering, what is it able to do?  Can it charge itself?  Navigate on its own?  Patrol your house, etc?  In my opinion, a robot is considered interesting based on what it can do, not what it looks like.

Thanks for sharing.  :)
Check out the Evolution Robotics, ER1 robot, and ERSP Resource Page: http://www.societyofrobots.com/member_tutorials/node/336

Offline wdbarnwell

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Re: Evolution Robotics, ER1 Robot, and ERSP Thread.
« Reply #4 on: November 26, 2008, 11:16:40 AM »
Here are some pictures of my ER1. At one time I had a self charging port, the only problem is, that It only charges the ER1's battery and not the notebook's. I have thought about using a motherboard, but they use way too much power and take up too much space. The servos on the robot are not activated until they need to be used to save on power. That way I can get away with using the stock ER1's battery.

My opinion about robots is, looks and quality are as important as function, if it has wires thrown everywhere and looks like someone used a hand drill and a hacksaw to build it, then I don't want to see it's function. I know that everyone doesn't have a machine shop at their fingertips, and at one time I didn't either, my first robots didn't look so good, believe me. After I had my tracks machined at a local shop, the guy said "Why don't you buy yourself a lathe and a milling machine, you will come out a lot cheaper in the long run." I took his advice and glad I did, because those machines opened up another hobby within it's self. And my robots look better and has better quality. Well hope everyone enjoys the pictures as I did making it.

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Re: Evolution Robotics, ER1 Robot, and ERSP Thread.
« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2008, 02:01:58 AM »
If any of you guys want an account for a members tutorial, let me know. You can then create a page with 'ER1 Resources' on it.

Offline SciTech02Topic starter

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Re: Evolution Robotics, ER1 Robot, and ERSP Thread.
« Reply #6 on: November 28, 2008, 07:48:40 PM »
Thanks for the offer.  We don't have any tutorials or enough ER1 resources to necessitate a specific page yet (I'm still trying to develop my robot).  However when we do get enough resources, I'll contact you about it.
Check out the Evolution Robotics, ER1 robot, and ERSP Resource Page: http://www.societyofrobots.com/member_tutorials/node/336

Offline urro

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Re: Evolution Robotics, ER1 Robot, and ERSP Thread.
« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2008, 09:12:10 AM »
Hello everybody! I have also an ER1, almost abandoned by now. My problem with this robot is about the APIs provided by Evolution (Python and text commands by TCP/IP): I find both of them very disappointing. So I have tried to find alternatives. I have found two:

-   http://www.cs.ust.hk/~yiu/robot/  RCMotion : Small C++ software that directly call the ER1 RCM via serial port
-   http://playerstage.sourceforge.net/   There exists a Player / Stage driver for the ER1 (looks quite similar to the first one)

Both seem to be abandoned, and both have important deficiencies. But I think that a fully functional Player / Stage driver for the ER1 (probably improved with parts of the RCMotion) would be the best starting point for further developments. P/S provides not only a platform independent, language independent (or almost) access to the robot, but also a simulator and a hell of robotics algorithms.

The main problems I find now with the current version of the ER1 P/S driver are:
-   it doesn’t connect to the robot when the battery is not full
-   the odometry is, at best, questionable
-   the hobbyist ports don’t work
-   the gripper and the IR sensors are not supported

But as a free software platform, we can solve all of this. If anyone is interested, we can cooperate to improve the driver.

What do you think?

Offline Ro-Bot-X

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Re: Evolution Robotics, ER1 Robot, and ERSP Thread.
« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2008, 08:39:33 PM »
Wellcome!

I am interested in thinkering with Linux and PLayer/Stage.
I think the hobby ports don't work properly because of some hardware and driver problem. Croc4 added some capacitors to the analog pins and the reading improved. I didn't look at this closely, I chose a second microcontroller route, to read the sensors and control the servos for head and arm(s).

Anyway, the idea is great, however I am not a computer programmer, so I will not be a big help to further develop code. Perhaps I can do more on the hardware side of things.
Check out the uBotino robot controller!

Offline SciTech02Topic starter

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Re: Evolution Robotics, ER1 Robot, and ERSP Thread.
« Reply #9 on: December 09, 2008, 10:17:39 PM »
Welcome fellow ER1 owner.  :) Interesting...  More programs to look through.  I didn't think there was this much third-party software for the ER1.  Personally, I'm trying to create all my scripts using only the RCC API commands (so people who only have the RCC can do stuff without having to buy/download extra software).  Supposedly, you can access the hobby ports by using only that.

I haven't worked on my ER1 for about a week, due to problems with the laptop. :-\ However, I'm tweaking my mapping script(s), so that they work better (I'll keep updating).

Good news, Evolution Robotics has re-released the ER1 robot in a limited quantity.  It's now called the ER1-D and you can buy the RCM-D separately.  Link: http://www.evolution.com/er1/  Share your opinions about this and, if you own a new ER1-D/RCM-D, tell us how they are (I'm curious if they look any different).
Check out the Evolution Robotics, ER1 robot, and ERSP Resource Page: http://www.societyofrobots.com/member_tutorials/node/336

Offline gauntlet

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Re: Evolution Robotics, ER1 Robot, and ERSP Thread.
« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2008, 02:56:19 PM »
Hi all. I am another lonely ER1 user. I am using the basic setup and some phyton code to drive the baby.  ::)

Offline SciTech02Topic starter

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Re: Evolution Robotics, ER1 Robot, and ERSP Thread.
« Reply #11 on: December 11, 2008, 05:05:20 PM »
Great, another ER1 owner AND another Python programmer (just like me).  8) Please, share some more details on your ER1 and your ER1 Python code(s) (also, if you can, share some pictures of your ER1).  Are you using the ERSP Python SDK or just the RCC API commands?
Check out the Evolution Robotics, ER1 robot, and ERSP Resource Page: http://www.societyofrobots.com/member_tutorials/node/336

Offline gauntlet

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Re: Evolution Robotics, ER1 Robot, and ERSP Thread.
« Reply #12 on: December 13, 2008, 03:35:40 AM »
Hi. I am no phyton programmer. Croc4 gave me a big help in getting started with phyton and i am still in the beguining stage. I am trying to run a full phyton rutine to control the robots behavior, his mood and will use some aditional ir sensors wired up to the rcm analog ports to improve his navigation. Have tryed to use Strabo pathfinder but i think it is not worth the hassel. Will post some pics of my setup soon.

PS: Does any one know how much a new RCM costs at Evolution. Thanks.
« Last Edit: December 13, 2008, 03:41:16 AM by gauntlet »

Offline urro

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Re: Evolution Robotics, ER1 Robot, and ERSP Thread.
« Reply #13 on: December 17, 2008, 08:51:23 AM »
Hi colleges,
I’m afraid Evolution has not managed to sell their remaining ER1s packed with the ERSP sw and now tries again to sell them separately…  I’m not so optimistic about that company, sorry  ???   Anyway, it’s quite suspicious that they don’t provide an updated version of the software… even when the current version sucks!

One question for the Python SD users:  can you access the hobbyist ports? It says nothing about them in the manual…
Thanks!

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Re: Evolution Robotics, ER1 Robot, and ERSP Thread.
« Reply #14 on: December 17, 2008, 09:05:21 AM »
Hi again (second post in 15 minutes…)
Talking about ancient history…. anyone remembers the tool provided in the Evolution web site to control the hobbyist ports? I would like to have the source to improve the ER1 Player/Stage driver.
Thanks!

Offline SciTech02Topic starter

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Re: Evolution Robotics, ER1 Robot, and ERSP Thread.
« Reply #15 on: December 17, 2008, 12:11:12 PM »
Ro-Bot-X gave me a program called "Hobby Ports Monitor" that looked like a GUI for controlling said ports (I'm not using it at the moment, so I have no idea how it works).  Was this actually provided on Evolution Robotics' website?  I will attach this program in a .zip folder (I'll edit the post and add the attachment in a few minutes).

When you say "current software" I assume you mean the default RCC software.  Evolution Robotics will not update that (even though one or two things changed can make the RCC API an ideal development platform), they want you to use their advanced ERSP 3.0 (I haven't had any experience with 3.0, but many of us have the original 2.0).

From what I heard, Evolution Robotics did sell their remaining ER1's and have been out of stock for ages (I called the company ~2 years ago asking this question).  So even if you bought the whole ER1-ERSP 3.0 bundle for $7k, you wouldn't have got an ER1.

Here's the attached Hobby Ports Monitor.  Tell me if it works (it should open a window when you open the program).
« Last Edit: December 17, 2008, 12:54:23 PM by SciTech02 »
Check out the Evolution Robotics, ER1 robot, and ERSP Resource Page: http://www.societyofrobots.com/member_tutorials/node/336

Offline urro

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Re: Evolution Robotics, ER1 Robot, and ERSP Thread.
« Reply #16 on: December 22, 2008, 04:12:35 AM »
Yes, that’s the program. It works fine!; thanks.

Yes, I agree. I started developing for the RCC API until I realized that you can’t make the robot advance and turn at the same time, and that the heading angle is always zero. Then I start looking for alternatives, as the Player/Stage driver, or the Python SDK (I don’t have the ERSP; When I bought the robot Evolution had stopped providing it with the ER1)

Offline uksmit

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Re: Evolution Robotics, ER1 Robot, and ERSP Thread.
« Reply #17 on: December 23, 2008, 08:51:36 AM »
After waiting years to find an appropriate 'brain' for my ER1 I finally rebuilt a smaller version this summer utilizing the Asus 901 running Windows XP. This is a fab combination but now the software is showing its age. I have setup a short blog to share my experiences and remaining ER1 files here: http://retrobotics.gosmit.com

I purchased two FULL ER1 kits plus the accessories kit and IR sensors at the time in the final Evolution sales. Plenty of hardware to go around plus tow sets of motors and two RCMs.

Has anyone tried to run two set of wheels (4x4 rover) from one RCM yet?

The 'new' bot benefits from a 12v sealed acid battery which allows the bot to work well beyond 8 hours, depending on the activity.

Are there any behaviour files to share?

Meanwhile purchased the SRV-1 to get better around the home.....
« Last Edit: December 23, 2008, 08:52:34 AM by uksmit »

Offline SciTech02Topic starter

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Re: Evolution Robotics, ER1 Robot, and ERSP Thread.
« Reply #18 on: December 23, 2008, 02:38:45 PM »
Welcome to the forum, uksmit.  I've heard really good things about the Asus line of laptops, so you should have no problems running the software.  We'll monitor your blog with great interest.  :)

You mention the SocialBot-lite chatbot on your blog.  I downloaded and played with it a while back.  It was alright; I found it very limited.  I later found out that the A.L.I.C.E. chatbot (the one that won the Loebner Prize) is open source and can be freely downloaded.  A.L.I.C.E.'s communication abilities are much more advanced than SocialBot-lite's, in my opinion.  A future project I want to do is to interface A.L.I.C.E. with the ER1; so if the chatbot is told to move, a command is sent to move the ER1, or if the ER1 detects something, the chatbot is notified, etc.

Update on my robot:  For the last week, I have been adjusting and modifying my pathfinding program to fit my house.  In particular, I've developed special "cases", where instead of moving forward to reach a specific cell, it undergoes a series of movements to reach that cell.  The reason I made these "cases" is because most households cannot be perfectly represented with square grid; some room's grids do not line up with the grids of other rooms.  It's like two chessboards next to each other, with one moved half an inch to the side (the cells do not line up).  Now my robot can move to these "unaligned" cells; which leads to better pathfinding in my house. :)

Now I'm working on a Python module that handles the entire ER1 API session; you import this module into your Python script and it establishes the connection.  It also has functions for sending commands to the ER1 and receiving "events" from it.  The purpose of this module is to fully utilize the features of the ER1 API in a simple way, so I can focus on creating scripts and tasks, instead of trying to get the ER1 API to work. 8)
Check out the Evolution Robotics, ER1 robot, and ERSP Resource Page: http://www.societyofrobots.com/member_tutorials/node/336

Offline lupinoxp

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Re: Evolution Robotics, ER1 Robot, and ERSP Thread.
« Reply #19 on: December 27, 2008, 03:50:50 AM »
Hello, I'm an Italian guy I follow your very forum and owner of a ER1 Robot, I'll show you a short my project I would now like to share with you the material available to me. Want to know what software is this?


Offline SciTech02Topic starter

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Re: Evolution Robotics, ER1 Robot, and ERSP Thread.
« Reply #21 on: December 27, 2008, 01:03:53 PM »
Hello Lupinoxp!  I think we all would like to know what that software program you're working on is (it looks like ER1 Vision Tool that comes with ERSP, basically a GUI for capturing and recognizing objects).  Now that I looked at the image closer, it looks like a GUI for remote controlling an ER1 robot.  It looks official...  Do you work for Evolution Robotics?  :P

Thanks for all the links, I think it's time for that resource page Admin mentioned awhile back (All the links should be given a description though).  I'll PM Admin about it.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2008, 06:48:40 PM by SciTech02 »
Check out the Evolution Robotics, ER1 robot, and ERSP Resource Page: http://www.societyofrobots.com/member_tutorials/node/336

Offline lupinoxp

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Re: Evolution Robotics, ER1 Robot, and ERSP Thread.
« Reply #22 on: January 04, 2009, 04:12:05 AM »
Hello, I want to build the ER1 Gripper, some of you who can examine the Gripper with photos and diagrams of electronics. Especially the pattern of electronic card "if there is" the connecting pins and components, Thank you.

Offline lupinoxp

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Re: Evolution Robotics, ER1 Robot, and ERSP Thread.
« Reply #23 on: January 04, 2009, 04:20:31 AM »
Hello, I was wondering if there is a way to connect 3 sensors, not those distributed by Evolution Robotics so that they recognize the Gui of ER1.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2009, 04:27:11 AM by lupinoxp »

Offline SciTech02Topic starter

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Re: Evolution Robotics, ER1 Robot, and ERSP Thread.
« Reply #24 on: January 05, 2009, 07:18:01 PM »
Hello, I was wondering if there is a way to connect 3 sensors, not those distributed by Evolution Robotics so that they recognize the Gui of ER1.

Unfortunately, I do not think this is possible.  The ER1 GUI uses USB Sharp IR sensors that plugged directly into the controlling PC.  Unless you could get sensors to communicate with the GUI through a USB port (a difficult feat without any source code), you cannot use the GUI to read custom sensors.  :-\ This is the reason I use the command line-API to controll my ER1; I have access to the hobby analog/digital ports for custom sensors, servos, etc.

I cannot help you with the ER1 gripper, because I don't have one.  Some of the other people that commented in the thread look like they have them, so perhaps one of them could help you.

Recently, my schedule has gotten a lot busier, so I won't be able to work on my ER1 as much.  I have made some progress with the ER1 API module and when that's finished, I plan on integrating it with my pathfinding system (for a vSLAM-ish robot system).
Check out the Evolution Robotics, ER1 robot, and ERSP Resource Page: http://www.societyofrobots.com/member_tutorials/node/336

Offline iamthedruid

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Re: Evolution Robotics, ER1 Robot, and ERSP Thread.
« Reply #25 on: January 10, 2009, 10:26:30 PM »
Hi, I was wondering if there are any Gripper arms (similar to ER1 gripper ) out there compatible with ER1. Badly need one. Any help is appreciated.

Thanks

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Re: Evolution Robotics, ER1 Robot, and ERSP Thread.
« Reply #26 on: January 14, 2009, 09:56:55 AM »
Hi all, I found that I can download the ER1 Software and updates from Evolution for free if any one wants them I will provide the links.
https://inet.idealab.com/dbd/A8ACB584/ER1_CD.zip
https://inet.idealab.com/dbd/756A30AB/ER1_Updates.zip

I am also looking an RCM and wheels for the ER1 I already have a body built with track drives, so if any one wants to sell parts please let me know.
Also I would like to know if anyone has created an API program to run a 5 axis arm.

Thanks
Tymtravler

Offline lupinoxp

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Re: Evolution Robotics, ER1 Robot, and ERSP Thread.
« Reply #27 on: January 16, 2009, 06:33:17 AM »
Hello, why not put the photos of the robot project.

Offline Tymtravler

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Re: Evolution Robotics, ER1 Robot, and ERSP Thread.
« Reply #28 on: January 22, 2009, 02:38:20 PM »
Has anyone tried to convert the stepper motor signal from the RCM to a DC motor?

Thanks

Offline SciTech02Topic starter

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Re: Evolution Robotics, ER1 Robot, and ERSP Thread.
« Reply #29 on: January 23, 2009, 01:20:11 AM »
Hello there!  Unfortunately, I don't know anything about how the stepper motors are controlled by the RCM.  Stepper motors and DC motors use completely different systems, so compatibility doesn't seem likely.  Also, we have no source code or any idea how the RCM works (some people reversed engineered the RCM, but that is difficult to do).  You may be able to do it, but there are easier ways to controll DC motors with the ER1 (the digital I/O ports could be used by the command line API, OR you can use electronics that plug directly into the ER1's laptop that control outside electronics (I believe these objects are called phidgits).

UPDATE:  As I've said, I have been extremely busy and haven't worked on the robot in awhile.  I will work on it this weekend (my API module is pretty much in working order, I just have to add to it).  I have also researched chatbots, specifically the A.L.I.C.E. chatbot and how to program/modify them.  A project I would like to try when my ER1 mapping project is finished is to link the ER1's vision capabilities with the communication abilities of the chatbot (I would have my own droid that you can have a conversation with)  8)

I'll try to create part of the ER1 resource page this weekend, but I can't promise anything.

Keep playing with developing your ER1s!
Check out the Evolution Robotics, ER1 robot, and ERSP Resource Page: http://www.societyofrobots.com/member_tutorials/node/336

 


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