Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Open Worker - Robotics Project Part 1

Media attention on robotics is exploding with reputable newspapers starting to dedicate special attention to my favourite topic.  In the same light, it has been an exciting summer with robotics publications such as the POW Internet Report and the vastly viewed and discussed video documentary, Humans Need Not Apply.  In short, the robots are coming.  We've come to a point where a future of robotic cars, drones, pets and even workers will cross over from fiction to reality.

As I have explored on this young blog, innovations in robotics can now more easily than ever be implemented by entrepreneurs.  Start-ups and hobbyists alike can  use readily available embedded systems hardware like the Beaglebone that work in tandem with commodity computing platforms running open source robotics software such as the Robot Operating System to build the workers of the future.

I subscribe to the view that we cannot stop the inevitable in technology innovation - if you can't beat them, join them.  I thought about this all summer and one Friday evening, sitting on my couch in the living room, I started dreaming up my next robotics project.  Thinking definitely makes me thirsty, and after a long work week, I couldn't resits grabbing a cold locally brewed IPA beer.  I also asked myself, why should I get up and get it?  Isn't it humankind's ultimate goal to have a robot fetch beer for its human creators?  Isn't this why I studied engineering in the first place?  Yes, of course.

Leveraging my favourites in open source technology that include, uArms, lots of Makeblock, ROS and a Primevsion camera, I have toiled away to finally introduce Open Worker:

You can anthropomorphize Open Worker as much as his human interaction test cousin, Spartacus.  This advanced autonomous robot is much more functional than cute.  Understandably so, bringing beer to humans is serious business - the goal is worthy.

In my next post, I will explore the open source hardware details of this platform, allowing others to build upon my ideas and create more advanced versions of Open Worker.  The third post of this series will explain the software side of the project.  This includes programming ROS on a laptop that connects to three different Arduino boards.  Stay tuned!