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Robot-enabling my appartment- IR vs GPS vs ??? 
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Post Robot-enabling my appartment- IR vs GPS vs ???
Hi guys,

Im working on a robot that does some practical things. My strategy is to adapt the environment to the robot when needed.

I want my robot to interact with objects in my small one bedroom appartment. Its 600 square feet, one floor. Example, picking up a cup and bringing it to me, finding me in my room, picking up clothes on the floor and putting them in the closet.

I will need the robot to find and identify many small objects, and while i have saved cash, cost is a factor since if every item has an IR beam, that can get expensive with 50 objects.

Also, development time is a factor.. I work full time as a programmer so id rather invest in a quicker-to-implement solution and save 10 hours of work than use a cheaper solution that makes this project impractical time wise.

So, question 1: whats the best way of navigating between 5 spots in my place? Im think of IR vs GPS. With IR, i could put many IR sensors with different frequncies around the place so the robot can go where it needs to. Ex, one near my bed, one in the blacklisted_site, and then using general obstacle avoidance it gets there.
GPS seems easier, but ill need it to be accurate to at least a foot. I hear theres ones accurate to a cm. That would
be fantastic, but maybe IR is easier with the available packages?

Question 2: best method for finding small objects. Ex.. I have a cup with a handle built for the robots grip. But i need to find that object and know how to align the robot to grip it.
I also would like to tag all my clothes. Yes its nerdy but I think its possible with a small room and the current level of technology.
Here I am considering IR or RFID or again, high sensitivity GPSes. The GPSes could be in the cup/object or else some objexts could just always be in the same place. Ex, a cup is always kept on a marked spot on the shelf.

Another consideration is using a kinect. But while theres some good libraries there, its not as easy as just seeing objects. While it identifies humans, im not sure it will be able to identify intricate objects without a lot of programming.

Any other technologies or strategies or insights would be great. Im on an ipad with autocorrect disabled so my spellings likely aweful.


Thu Mar 22, 2012 4:18 am
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Post Re: Robot-enabling my appartment- IR vs GPS vs ???
You're obviously more experienced than me in programming, so I won't comment on the difficulties of that to you. I'll offer what input I have though:
I've used ultra accurate GPS like you described, and it works great...outdoors. I don't know how accurate you'll be able to get from inside your house.
While a GPS on the robot might be a good idea, it hardly seems cost effective to put it in things like cups. Plus, the chips aren't small, and you have to power them.
Passive RFID's sound good to me, but I'm not sure how dishwasher proof you can make them if you put it on a cup.
Same idea with clothes for washing.
leaving IR emitters around the house sounds like a good idea to me, but again, you have to power them. I have no idea how long you can make one last on standard battery power. Perhaps you could plug them into the wall like a night light, and leave them there all the time.

That's my 2 cents for now.

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Thu Mar 22, 2012 8:57 am
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Post Re: Robot-enabling my appartment- IR vs GPS vs ???
Paasive rfid seem viable. But i would need a better range than 3 cm... Whats the range on those things?

GPS might be okay in my place, tho it would not work in general in all homes. Any other ideas?

Accelerometers might work but i dont know if theres software out of the box to handle navigation.


Thu Mar 22, 2012 8:08 pm
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Post Re: Robot-enabling my appartment- IR vs GPS vs ???
Another thought- There's got to be a way to do this using an optical-mouse like technology. A ball mouse setup might work too. But I would think there's a good optical device that could do this and measure movement accurately from, say, 2-5mm off the ground?

I don't know of one for lego tho. I found this DIY implementation but I prefer not to go there.
http://www.bartneck.de/wp-content/uploa ... -small.pdf

Again, I'm open to ideas- If anyone has any, let me know.


Thu Mar 22, 2012 9:10 pm
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Post Re: Robot-enabling my appartment- IR vs GPS vs ???
I think the cheapest solution for the robot's navigation at least would be to make some kind of system of black (tape) lines following your walls, so it could drive in any given direction and eventually always find the line. There could even be colored markers/ dots/ pieces of tape next to specific points (dishwasher, laundry place, etc.) so the robot can identify them using a color sensor and know where on the line it is.

For finding/ identifying stuff, maybe Mindsensor's NXTCam? It recognizes colors so I guess you could adapt your environment to that too, to some extent (only red T-shirts from now on? :D)
http://mindsensors.com/index.php?module ... PAGE_id=78

Hope this helps

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Thu Mar 22, 2012 11:05 pm
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Post Re: Robot-enabling my appartment- IR vs GPS vs ???
cyman wrote:
Another thought- There's got to be a way to do this using an optical-mouse like technology. A ball mouse setup might work too. But I would think there's a good optical device that could do this and measure movement accurately from, say, 2-5mm off the ground?

I don't know of one for lego tho. I found this DIY implementation but I prefer not to go there.
http://www.bartneck.de/wp-content/uploa ... -small.pdf

Again, I'm open to ideas- If anyone has any, let me know.


Well, I don't know about the availability of code in other programming languages, but you probably won't find many ready-made libraries like the ones you're looking for with ROBOTC except for with the common Lego sensors. As for the optical mouse idea, I've made an optical mouse robot with a broken usb mouse and a picaxe. It didn't work too well on carpet though, because the lens has to focus on a very specific distance from the ground, and the combination of wheels digging in and slight bumps and curves in the surface led to the robot getting off track after a while.

cyman wrote:
Paasive rfid seem viable. But i would need a better range than 3 cm... Whats the range on those things?

GPS might be okay in my place, tho it would not work in general in all homes. Any other ideas?

Accelerometers might work but i dont know if theres software out of the box to handle navigation.


Wikipedia says 1-2 meters for cheap passive. That's great if it's true, but it's probably really hard to tell the direction of the signal at that range. I highly doubt accelerometers would work in keeping track of good enough position for any significant periods of time.

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Fri Mar 23, 2012 1:07 am
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Post Re: Robot-enabling my appartment- IR vs GPS vs ???
Interesting, this is exactly what I have been reading up on. Someone wrote a paper about this:
http://www.oru.se/PageFiles/14880/rapport21.pdf

Well, I am not looking for a pre-existing library. I will try to write one if there is one optical mouse can talk I2C, or as a nice small bluetooth device.


Sat Apr 07, 2012 6:30 am
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Post Re: Robot-enabling my appartment- IR vs GPS vs ???
I would personally route the mouse through another hardware interface. I used one with the VEX Cortex, and instead of using ROBOTC to talk to the mouse (and you have to keep communicating with the ADNS chip), I used a pickaxe to handle all of the computation and communication with the mouse, and just send the (x,y) coordinates to the Cortex.

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Sat Apr 07, 2012 10:31 am
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