OpenBot, a platform to turn smartphones into robots

Recently the news broke that the new version of the OpenBot project 0.5 was releasedIn which some interesting improvements have been made such as the redesign for the Arduino firmware and with which the support for RTR and RC robots was added, in addition to the support for configuration messages among other things.

For those who do not know about OpenBot, I can tell you that this is a project that develops a platform to create robots with wheels in motion, whose base is a normal smartphone based on Android.

Platform was created in the research division of Intel and develops the idea of ​​using the computing capabilities of a smartphone and the built-in GPS, gyroscope, compass, and camera when creating robots.

The robot control, environmental analysis and autonomous navigation software it is implemented as an application for the Android platform. The code is written in Java, Kotlin and C++ and is distributed under the MIT license.

It is hoped that the platform could be useful for teaching robotics, rapidly creating their own moving robot prototypes, and conducting research related to autopilots and autonomous navigation.

About OpenBot

OpenBot will allows the user to start experiments with moving robots at minimal cost: To create a robot, it is enough to use a mid-range smartphone and additional components for a total cost of approximately $50.

The robot chassisAs well as related parties to connect a smartphone printed on a 3D printer according to the proposed designs (if there is no 3D printer, you can cut the frame out of cardboard or plywood). Propulsion is provided by four electric motors.

To control additional motors, accessories and sensors, as well as to monitor battery charge, an Arduino Nano board is used based on the ATmega328P microcontroller, which connects to a smartphone via a USB port.

In addition, the connection of ultrasonic sonar and speed sensors is supported. The robot can be controlled remotely via an Android client app, via a computer on the same WiFi network, via a web browser, or via a Bluetooth-enabled game controller (such as PS4, XBox and X3).

control software running on a smartphone includes a machine learning system for object recognition (about 80 types of objects are defined) and performs autopilot functions.

The application allows the robot to determine the desired objects, avoid obstacles, follow the selected object and solve autonomous navigation problems.

For example, a robot can move to a specific location on autopilot, adapting to changes in the environment. Movement can also be controlled manually, using the robot as a remote-controlled moving camera.

Main novelties of OpenBot 0.5

In the new version, the firmware for Arduino has been significantly redesigned, in which support for additional types of robots (RTR and RC) has appeared.

Besides it added support for a new messaging protocol with firmware from microcontroller to Android application, the ability to process configuration messages was implemented, and support for control via game controllers was redone. Added models for printing on a 3D printer of the new RC-Truck chassis.

Another change that stands out is that added a button to change the camera on the robot to the client application and support for the RTSP protocol was discontinued in favor of WebRTC. Node.js-based web interface provides the ability to remotely control the movement of the robot through a browser with data transmission from the robot's video camera using WebRTC.

Finally if you are interested in knowing more about it about the project, you can check the details In the following link.

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