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Google, Intel, Microsoft Fund Robot Recipes 73

Posted by samzenpus
from the cook-until-sentient dept.
Dotnaught writes "Google, Intel, and Microsoft are funding what may become a robot invasion. Money from the three tech companies has enabled researchers at Carnegie Mellon University to create a new series of Internet-connected robots that almost anyone can build using off-the-shelf parts. These "recipes" describe how to build a robot that connects to the Internet using common parts and a $349 Qwerk controller from Charmed Labs."
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Google, Intel, Microsoft Fund Robot Recipes

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  • by yams69 (986130) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @10:02PM (#18879637)
    ...welcome our new internet-connected robotic overlords.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by vorlich (972710)
      believe that a fine set of traditional practices that arise in an organic manner from the social group interacting is the glue that holds a community together. Always funny too.
    • We robots have been here for a while. PAK CHOOIE UNF
  • T1000? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Cyberax (705495) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @10:03PM (#18879645)
    What is going to be the name of the first model?
  • Leap first (Score:5, Funny)

    by Original Replica (908688) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @10:13PM (#18879719) Journal
    Why on earth would I want a web connected robot in my house? Because I already have too much privacy? Because bored kids would never think to trash my house with my own robot? Why not just install webcams and tape a web controlled taser to my neck..
    • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @10:22PM (#18879771)
      It will have new MS-level security:

      Do you want your house trashed

      Accept Decline

    • Yeah but you could do the same to those bored kids >=D
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Noxx (74567)
      Because you could have this conversation with your food processor...

      Son: Do you know what you're doing?
      The Cuisinator: I have detailed files on the tomato anatomy.
      Mom: I bet. It makes you a more efficient tomato chopper, right?
      The Cuisinator: Correct.

      But hey, what could go wrong with millions of household robots & appliances all hooked into the same network?

      Using Microsoft blueprints...
      And built by rednecks who want to hunt remotely...
      And...um...ok I gotta go.
      • The second part of that dialogue:

        Mom: You don't have detailed files on Human anatomy though right?

        The Cuisinator: *long pause* uhmm NO, wikipedia tells me that is the correct answer.

        Son: Mom, I have to get to school.... now Mom, Let's Go! (I love you Mr. Cuisinator).

    • by MaggieL (10193)
      You can no doubt get somebody to do that for you online. But she'll want to be paid first.

      Did you want to be spanked too? That's extra.
  • bots (Score:2, Funny)

    by wizardforce (1005805)
    brings new meaning to "bots" doesn't it.
  • by jdogalt (961241) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @10:19PM (#18879751) Journal
    $129 - Nintendo DS
    $54 - Supercard-Lite-MicroSD
    $15 - 1GB microSD
    $49 - DSerial2
    $99 - RoboDS
    ---
    $350

    Combine with the open source full linux wifi environment, and I don't know why you'd want to spend $350 on that controller (I'm lazy and haven't even read the specs on the thing, but seriously, I can't imagine there is anything the roboDS can't do that it could)

    http://www.natrium42.com/shop/robods.php [natrium42.com]

    -dmc/jdog
    • I can't imagine there is anything the roboDS can't do that it could
      Ah, but can your solution BSOD after turning on the gas stove in my house? I thought not!
    • by ejtttje (673126)
      Are there any specs for the roboDS? I don't see them anywhere, not to mention it isn't shipping yet.

      Qwerk info here:
      http://www.charmedlabs.com/index.php?option=com_co ntent&task=view&id=29 [charmedlabs.com]
      In short, 200 MHz ARM9, 32 MB RAM, 16 servo ports, 4 motor ports, 16 digital inputs, 8 analog inputs. And it's actually supported for this purpose instead of relying on Nintendo putting up with your hacking.

      But, in the DS's defense, having a builtin screen *is* kind of cute.
      • by jdogalt (961241)
        I'll admit, that the development environment for the NDS is lacking, and that would be a big selling point for the Qwerk at this moment. But what is important to keep in mind is that the NDS dev env isn't lacking due to any fundamental DRM or otherwise locked down or obfuscation problem. It really just needs some more elbow grease from the community to polish what we already have. I'm personally doing my small part to that end.

        Now then, to answer your question about the RoboDS which isn't _quite_ shippin
  • what about itsatrap?
  • by wellingj (1030460)
    I know they have robotic studio out now but...the Querk is Linux based. wtf are they thinking?
    I think MS is just dishing out some cash to get in on the action but other wise
    has nothing to do with this. It's just another promo stunt for them so they can proclaim
    they play 'open' just like they did with robotics studio. In reality they had no
    chance of winning in that arena because play/stage/gazebo was already out and is
    better built for people who do serious robotics. Or this is their big promo stunt to
    n
  • by xtal (49134)
    You can do basic motor control with a $10 microcontroller. Add a stepper driver IC and you might be up to $25-30.

    Basic on/off DC motor control is a $1.50 transistor away.. and hell, why not use the LinuxCNC project if you want to do really complicated control?

    I'm not exactly sure what MS is trying to do here. Robots are cool, and a great interactive toy - but you waste a lot of resources building them if you want to explore AI and the like - it's easier to simulate concepts.
    • Re:Overkill? (Score:5, Informative)

      by camperdave (969942) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @11:22PM (#18880159) Journal

      Hardware
      • 200 MHz ARM9 RISC processor with MMU and hardware floating point unit
      • 32 Mbytes SDRAM, 8 Mbytes flash memory
      • Latest generation Xilinx Spartan 3E FPGA for custom I/O peripherals
      • Linux 2.6 installed
      • WiFi wireless networking support
      • WebCam video input support
      • 4 Amp switching power supply, 90% efficient, 7 to 30 Volt input range
      • Rugged aluminum enclosure
      • 5.1" x 5.8" x 1.3", 11.8 ozs

      I/O

      • 4 closed-loop 2.0 Amp motor controllers (supports both quadrature encoder and back-EMF "sensorless" feedback)
      • 16 RC-servo controllers
      • 16 programmable digital I/Os
      • 8 12-bit analog inputs
      • 2 RS-232 ports
      • USB 2.0 host ports for connecting standard USB PC peripherals
      • 10/100BT Ethernet port
      • Built-in audio amp for playing MP3 and WAV files
      More than I could squeeze out of a $10 microcontroller and a couple of dollars worth of driver silicon. If you can, I bow to you. However, for us mortals, it's often easier to learn from a kit than to start from scratch, and this seems like one powerful little kit.
      • Slug plus USB web cam plus USB wifi stick anyone!
        • Slug plus USB web cam plus USB wifi stick anyone!

          You may not be far off. After poking around on the website for a while, I found out that the WIFI access was provided by exactly that [zonetusa.com].
      • Back in 1996, I tried talking a couple of friends into setting up a site to sell DVDs. My argument was that DVDs were going to take over the VHS, and ppl were going to do libraries of these. By selling on the net, we could sell more for less (individually). But the big argument that I made was that with these being standardized, that after the first year, we could robotize the fulfillment system. That is, once the order is placed for say 10 DVDs, a robot system would extract from racks the appropriate dvds
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @10:27PM (#18879815)
    That should be the title of this piece of news.
    • by slughead (592713)
      "Google, Intel, Microsoft merge into Cyberdyne"

      If they merged, the apocalypse would happen long before they created any robots.
  • if I could only find a cheap supply of red LEDs for the eyes.
  • by caitsith01 (606117) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @10:30PM (#18879841) Journal
    Whilst it's laudable that companies are investing in robotics at all, it seems to me that the time has come for investment on a commercial scale in robotics for specific applications. These 'hobby' type robots are all well and good (and no doubt particularly appealing to many around here) but they don't actually DO very much of any use, and the average member of the public is not going to be all that excited by them.

    Roomva and similar robots are a step in the right direction, IMHO: relatively cheap, one- or two-function robots which have an obvious and straightforward function. People can see that, understand it, and if it works well (which I gather is not really the case just yet), will want to buy it. Once there's actual profit to be had, investment will increase rapidly and voila, the real robot revolution* begins.

    We seem to be at a point where we have the tech for some truly cool everyday use robots. Perhaps even something like an x-prize for robotics, with the objective being to build a cheap, mass-produce-able, functional robot to perform a specific household task, would do the trick. Some major investment from some major players could kick start a very fundamental change to the way we live.

    Plus, having lots of robots around the house would be frickin cool...

    * the good kind, not the humanity-crushing kind
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Animats (122034)

      Whilst it's laudable that companies are investing in robotics at all, it seems to me that the time has come for investment on a commercial scale in robotics for specific applications. These 'hobby' type robots are all well and good (and no doubt particularly appealing to many around here) but they don't actually DO very much of any use, and the average member of the public is not going to be all that excited by them.

      Hey, something like 60% of Roomba owners name the things, and those things rate slightl

      • There's been enormous progress in vision processing in the last five years, but it hasn't filtered down to the hobbyists yet, even though the hardware isn't the problem there.

        What is the problem there?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by camperdave (969942)
      Perhaps even something like an x-prize for robotics...

      Well, there are a few [darpa.mil] such [uavoutback...nge.com.au] competitions [gatech.edu], but more for serious stuff like search and rescue, and firefighting [trincoll.edu] than for simple household chores. After all, there are already cheap, mass production robots and automated machines for vacuuming, mowing lawns, making coffee, doing dishes, etc.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by kestasjk (933987)

      These 'hobby' type robots are all well and good (and no doubt particularly appealing to many around here) but they don't actually DO very much of any use,
      What are you talking about? I programmed my robot to get me a beer from the fridge and you only have to help him along the way or turn him away from the wall some of the time.
  • by Falkkin (97268) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @10:46PM (#18879923) Homepage
    As someone marginally involved with the project (my wife is Illah's student), I thought I might clear up some confusion that I've seen in the comments so far.

    First of all, the writeup focuses a lot on the funding from Microsoft, Google, and Intel, but in reality these robots' hardware and software are being designed at Carnegie Mellon. Specifically, Microsoft isn't involved with any of the programming and design. The robots indeed run Linux, not Windows. They're not using the MS robotics studio to develop the robot.

    This robot is primarily geared toward education: interesting kids in science and robotics. The project lead (Illah Nourbakhsh) has extensive experience creating science museum exhibits, tour-guide robots, and other forms of human-robot interaction. The networking functionality allows users to teleoperate the robot easily from a web browser.

    Right now, the project has obtained funding for curriculum development, integrating the TeRK into beginning computer science courses at the junior college and university levels, in order to increase the appeal of computer science to people who might not otherwise be interested in the field.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Google, Intel, And Microsoft Fund Robot 'Recipes'

    Abstract: Money from the three companies has enabled researchers at Carnegie Mellon University to create a series of Internet-connected robots that almost anyone can build using off-the-shelf parts.

    By Thomas Claburn, InformationWeek
    April 25, 2007
    URL: http://www.informationweek.com/story/showArticle.j html?articleID=199201449 [informationweek.com]

    Google, Intel, and Microsoft are funding what may become a robot invasion. Money from the three tech companies has enabled researchers a
  • when the robot crashes, it emits the Blue Scream of Death.
  • NO (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ch-chuck (9622)
    If you think the "browser wars" were bad, just wait untill Microsoft and $POTENTIAL_COMPETITION fight over control of a household robot.
  • Kick Ass! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Sloppy (14984) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @11:12PM (#18880103) Homepage Journal
    I'm always lookin' for a new way to eat robot.
  • I think I saw this in a movie starring a governor. They called it AeroTubes or something like that.
  • Unfornately this gives us a whole new definition of
    Spamming Net Bots
  • by parker (140273) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @01:30AM (#18880847)
    I contributed to TeRK while working on my MS at CMU.

    The idea is to provide as simple of an interface to programming the robot as possible. You can write your own stuff directly on the hardware if you like (it's got a serial connection so it's easy to connect to). Or, you can take advantage of the layers of code and write something which runs on your PC... but still has access to things like values from the analog inputs and moving the motors -- all via 802.11. The project uses a lot of open source and the source code for all of the components is available. There is a lot of framework code written in C that runs on the Qwerk board itself, and it uses ICE [zeroc.com] to connect from the board to either a relay server or your PC. Then, for the people who don't like to program at all (or are just starting out), there is a lot of software [cmu.edu], including a basic emulator of the board, mostly written in Java, that they can just run on Windows, Mac OS, or Linux.

    During development, we took our PC app and a couple of Qwerks to a group of robotics hobbyists and they were floored by the kind of capability you can get for free with the Qwerk and all of the software that's already been written. Most of them wanted to find a way to incorporate the board into their own projects.

    Anyway, the goal of the project is to have a wide appeal. I hope it can get a lot more people excited about what they can do, and all at a very low cost compared to other kits.
    • by Fedarkyn (892041)
      I want the premium positronic version!

      the emulator is witten in java or u have a KVM inside the robot? will it be cdc or cldc?
  • This configuration is what I have in mind for a modern small scale robot.(Small scale because it doesn't have large memory storage on board ) Unfortunately this kind of robot is totally useless without a huge database , server and wireless connection. Robot with this hardware configuration IS a robot!!! I go crazy when I see people wasting time with something like 2 servo motors , small cpu like 8051 with 2k of memory and few sensors that help em not to bump into a first obstacle. Please use your imaginatio
  • by drewzhrodague (606182) <drew@zhr[ ]gue.net ['oda' in gap]> on Thursday April 26, 2007 @03:28AM (#18881495) Homepage Journal
    Carl and Tom spoke at one of the Pittsburgh dorkbot [dorkbot.org] meetings. There's iPod video and MPEG-4 of their presentation in the March archives [dorkbot.org].
  • Get that Old Glory Insurance now.
  • I'd think that in the long run, it would be more useful for the robots to contact each other remotely than to be web-controlled by a human. And don't worry, Judgement Day already didn't happen.
  • I've always been reluctantly excited about new robotic technology, even if it does mean we end up with some crazed robot bee with laser beams on their heads.

    But a robotic chair? Can we not even sit down without the help of a technology? I guess the point is that they roll back to a corner out of the way for the cleaning maids after hours... but what about when a meeting goes overtime and while everyone's sitting down suddenly we all start shifting towards the wall? Even if there's safeguards for this,

  • We've been down this road before. First, the GIM 1.0 standard is announced. Then, Google makes a superior robotic product and Intel and Microsoft make some money selling more stuff. Microsoft wants it all though, so they add a clunky slow new interface (perhaps voice-control) that is obviously a burden now but will eventually dominate all robotic interfaces (given time). Microsoft doesn't want to wait though, in case Google pushes the current technology to make the Microsoft tech look silly. So Microsoft fi
  • Hey I'm going build a wifi controller for this so I won't need a computer; It will have a few sticks one that makes the left wheels turn one the right. Then I can control it from my couch I'm going to call it the Remote Controlled Car. I like the idea here but I'd have to say it's not a robot until it can process some form of independent thinking. From what it sounds like it just takes my commands and sends back video. I have to control it so if I want it to go find my book I still have to drive it around
  • Purposes (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @11:43AM (#18885665)
    * Vacuum (we sort of have that but I have dogs so i need a real sized canister)
    * Clean and stack Dirty Dishes
    * Fold and hang clothes (I can wash and dry them).
    * Mow lawn (we sort of have that)

    I can't see buying a robot for fun. But I would pay about $300 to $500 per item on that list.

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