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Wii Hacked To Control Sword-Wielding Robot 136

Posted by Zonk
from the no-part-of-that-title-is-not-freaking-sweet dept.
ianchaos writes "WiiBot is the pet project of two engineers who apparently have way too much cool hardware and time on their hands. These two guys figure that as long as you have a Kuka KR16 industrial robot to work with, why not see if you can control it with the Wii Remote? The result is a tennis-playing, sword-wielding mechanical arm that simultaneously captures 'weekend of nerdy fun' and 'accident waiting to happen' in a fun two minute video. The website even details the technical aspects of teaching a robot to parry."
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Wii Hacked To Control Sword-Wielding Robot

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  • Obligatory. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Mr_Rogerson (1059660) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @02:57AM (#17879374)
    I for one welcome our wii-capable overlords. ...first post ever, gimme a break right?
    • Re:Obligatory. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by utopianfiat (774016) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @03:13AM (#17879442) Journal
      I for one welcome our monkey-with-modpoint overlords. :/

      Also, welcome to a week ago [hackaday.com], slashdot.
      • To be fair to slashdot, they're atleast a few days ahead of the Mainstream press when it comes to tech stories. Even with misleading headlines, they're also ahead of the curve with reporting them too.
    • by SeaFox (739806)
      You forgot to mention their army of sword-wielding robots.
  • by tanveer1979 (530624) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @03:00AM (#17879384) Homepage Journal
    An accident already happened, in the server room. Service Unavailable
  • Mirror (Score:5, Informative)

    by Fred the computer (607759) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @03:02AM (#17879392)
  • by ChromeAeonium (1026952) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @03:06AM (#17879410)
    Its all fun and games until they become possessed by the angry ghost of R.O.B.
    • by AngryNick (891056)
      Its all fun and games until they become possessed by the angry ghost of R.O.B.

      ...or until someone gets their eye poked out...or their head lopped-off.
  • The perfect crime? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Umbral Blot (737704) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @03:08AM (#17879422) Homepage
    Murder by remote controlled robot, the perfect crime?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by jpardey (569633)
      With a somewhat lower latency, perhaps. Swinging, waiting a second, and then hearing your victim say "AH! You got me!" just isn't very cool.
      • by Melfina (872932) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @04:14AM (#17879598)
        With a long enough lag and some planning, it could make it look like the bot did it all on it's own >_>... hmm
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Just trick your victim to sleep next to the robot.

        Now is the tricky part (not getting caught). Turn off the power. Put a Wii-remote along with the sword on your primary robot and set it up in the default position. Next put a second robot with a Wii-remote that controls the first but have it set up so that the arm is pointed up. Set it up so that the primary Wii on the first robot controls it. Now turn on the power. As the second robot centers it will direct the first robot to have a downward arc with
    • Why did this get modded funny? A remote control anything with a weapon concerns me.
      • by Mercedes308 (832423) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @05:32AM (#17879828)
        I couldn't think of anything more fun to have.
      • I agree, although I'd rather face a remote controlled weapon than a fully autonomous weapon. With a remote, at least there's a human in the loop. There's a chance for compassion. There's a chance for slow reaction times. There's a chance for outsmarting your opponent. However, with a fully autonomous weapon, there's none of that.
        • If the full automaton moves like the remote controlled one, bring it on. Having done quite a lot of epee fencing in my past watching that robot was funny. It's lunge is so slow that an elderly sloth could dodge it and it's swing looks very powerless. Give me a philips head screw driver and a pair of wire cutters and the thing would be off before it could take it's second move.

          Sad really, I've wanted a robot for practicing for a while, but that thing would be to easy to consistently beat.
  • by L0stb0Y (108220) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @03:09AM (#17879424) Journal
    Loved the discussion of how the bot can easily decapitate.

  • Military? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by suyashs (645036)
    I fear the military applications of this...not like it wasn't possible before, but perhaps this might give some people ideas that would ultimately be used to kill people.
    • Re:Military? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by suv4x4 (956391) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @03:13AM (#17879440)
      I fear the military applications of this...not like it wasn't possible before, but perhaps this might give some people ideas that would ultimately be used to kill people.

      Yea... the military implications.. Well, if someone told you to go into an empty room and go very very near to a robot that's holding a sword, just, you know, don't do it.

      Plus it's still easier and cheaper for An Actual Human to simply shoot you with a conventional gun, rather than use Wii-eqipped sword holding robots.
      • by suyashs (645036)
        Yea and what about outfitting robots with guns and using suits filled with accelerometers and cameras to remotely control them?
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Uh this is old news buddy. Been there, done that, deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan (at least the robots with guns part). The cool/new thing about this is using a wiimote.
          • by node 3 (115640)

            Uh this is old news buddy. Been there, done that, deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan (at least the robots with guns part).
            Which is to say, it *hasn't* been done.

            The cool/new thing about this is using a wiimote.
            Which the whole point. Kudos for managing to completely miss it, while being able, somehow, to also point it out.
        • This would be way more effective IMHO

          Or what? You'll release the dogs? Or the bees? Or the dogs with bees in their mouth and when they bark they shoot bees at you?
        • by Joebert (946227)
          Then we find where the signal is comming from & send people with swords over there.
          It's not like they're going to have any weapons or anything.
      • Plus it's still easier and cheaper for An Actual Human to simply shoot you with a conventional gun, rather than use Wii-eqipped sword holding robots.

        For now.
        • by suv4x4 (956391)
          Plus it's still easier and cheaper for An Actual Human to simply shoot you with a conventional gun, rather than use Wii-eqipped sword holding robots.

          For now.


          Was this supposed to sound spooky or TV-sci-fi-series cheesy?
      • by TheUnknown (90519)
        Did you ever watch Escaflowne (sp?)? The "robots" were weilding swords and very dangerous.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by kabocox (199019)
        I fear the military applications of this...not like it wasn't possible before, but perhaps this might give some people ideas that would ultimately be used to kill people.
        Yea... the military implications.. Well, if someone told you to go into an empty room and go very very near to a robot that's holding a sword, just, you know, don't do it.
        Plus it's still easier and cheaper for An Actual Human to simply shoot you with a conventional gun, rather than use Wii-eqipped sword holding robots.


        Actually, after readin
    • by binarybum (468664) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @04:02AM (#17879570) Homepage
      you're right - let's slashdot the heck out of it so the military can't get to the website, 'cause as soon as some goofball in the military gets an idea about using "robots" as killing machines- whoa!

        Fortunately, this [navy.mil] hasn't [com.com] occurred [slashdot.org] to [decaturdaily.com] anyone [usatoday.com] but you.... yet.
    • by srussia (884021)
      I fear the military applications of this...not like it wasn't possible before, but perhaps this might give some people ideas that would ultimately be used to kill people.

      I fear the /.-meme inducing virulence of this comment. Think about it--"I fear the military applications of this..." is the new obligatory "I, for one, welcome our new $ACTION overlords." And it can apply to virtually any slashdot story.

      Example:

      SCIENCE: MATERIAL TOUGHER THAN DIAMOND DEVELOPED

      Obligatory...

      I, for one, fear the
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by LunarCrisis (966179)

        I, for one, fear the military applications of this new /. meme, not like it wasn't possible before, but perhaps this might give some people ideas that would ultimately be used to kill people. After all, with geeks the world over tagging things with possible military applications, the military could just throw away their R&D department!

        Sorry, I just couldn't resist. . .

    • Yeah, isn't this how the fall of the Twelve Colonies happened?
  • by hedgemage (934558) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @03:09AM (#17879428)
    The robot arm, in the server room, with the sword.
  • Now that we can play tennis by remote control I think we should introduce the system for the 2008 Australian open. These people play under conditions when most people in this city are sitting under the aircon vents in office buildings and homes, debating wether or not to venture outside for a swim.

    In the interests of fewer baked and dehydrated tennis players I think we should approve teleoperation (unless the roof is closed).
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You fool! Did you even think of the consequences of your suggestions? Really?

      In one case we can have a hot and sweaty Maria Sharapova running across the tennis court wearing a sports bra and a short tennis skirt because of the heat and in the other case we can watch a couple of technicians in coveralls changing the oil of the KR16 industrial robot. I know we're all geeks here, but c'mon!
      • by M8e (1008767)
        But Maria Sharapova can play NAKED in her hotelroom! and guess what, we will need a spycam so can be sure that she is acually playing!
  • Don't like the software -it sucks that you have to finish a motion before the robot even begins that motion. It probably took a thousand takes before they managed to hit a tennis ball with the thing.
  • by ZachPruckowski (918562) <zachary.pruckowski@gmail.com> on Sunday February 04, 2007 @03:24AM (#17879478)
    The problem here is not too much cool hardware. That's never a problem. The problem is not enough sharing.
  • Neat Implications (Score:5, Interesting)

    by slib (876774) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @03:25AM (#17879484)
    This could be great for amateur robotics. Instead of painstakingly programming the subtle nuances of motion into a robotic arm/leg/whatever, perform the movement via WiiMote and record the motion. Although I'm sure people have been using similar methods for ages, using a Wii only requires an investment of 250 USD. Plus tax. Plus Zelda (purely for scientific purposes).
    • Re:Neat Implications (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 04, 2007 @03:45AM (#17879526)
      I may be wrong here, but if I'm reading them correctly, they STILL had to manually program the movement sequences (using the robot's built-in 6D controller). Then they had to hand-code roughly analogous coordinates into the software. Finally, they calculated what the user was doing based on the accelerometers in the Wii-Mote, and did a fuzzy match on the 6 actual, 5 practical pre-coded motions, selecting the closest match and performing it.

      This meant that the robot could do a handful of simple, pre-defined motions, and the Wii-Mote was simply used to select the closest available match. Not saying it isn't cool, but it's a far cry from programming the robot with a Wii-Mote. I'm not entirely sure those robots could even handle the amount of data it would take to real-time mirror a Wii-Mote. These machines are designed to do a handful of carefully pre-recorded motions (typically one), over, and over, and over, and over for years with near perfect accuracy. Not to mention the fact that there's really no direct way to translate the accelerometer data from a Wii-Mote into useful, sensical motions for a 3-jointed mechanical arm (or any robot, for that matter.) So even if the poor thing could somehow handle that much incoming data, figuring out what data to send it in the first place would be damn near impossible.

      What they're doing is cool as hell, but they're not programming the robot with the Wii-Mote. They're controlling it, just like the headlines says. Just sayin'.
      • by nebosuke (1012041)

        Not to mention the fact that there's really no direct way to translate the accelerometer data from a Wii-Mote into useful, sensical motions for a 3-jointed mechanical arm (or any robot, for that matter.)

        You could easily do it in realtime if you had a decent inverse kinematics engine translating Wiimote data to instructions for the robotic arm. There would be some limitations and additional requirements, of course. E.g., either use 2 wiimotes, one attached to your shoulder and one held in your hand, or y

        • I think elbow and hand are going to be better choices than shoulder and hand. The data would probably be better quality, but that might depend on the algorithm and the accelerometers in the Wiimote. It would be more data to smooth out the shoulder rotation.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by bensch128 (563853)
        This meant that the robot could do a handful of simple, pre-defined motions, and the Wii-Mote was simply used to select the closest available match.

        They could do better though.

        They should record only very small motion paths (its accurate to 1/100 inch occuring TFA). Then have the robot play each piece when it receives it from the Wii-Remote. They'd have to record alot more motions but it would be smoother, more immediate, and more realistic in the end.

        Cheers
        Ben
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Falladir (1026636)
        From the wii games I've played, it seems like the wii isn't capable of anything more than execution of scripted motions either. It's fun to slash by making a slashing motion, but it would be a hell of a lot more fun if the precise motion made by the user appeared in the game. I can't help but feel that if my wii motions are scripted, I might as well have a keypad. This isn't off topic: these guys have come just as far as most of the wii game developers in harvesting data from the wiimote.
        • by jackbird (721605)
          If you're holding the bat right in Wii sports baseball, you can wiggle it in circles with what feels like perfect accuracy before the pitch. Once it senses you're getting into the swing, however, it kicks into scripted mode - I haven't been able to miss the ball by swinging above or below when the timing is correct.

          (OT: is it even possible to get a walk in Wii baseball? The computer's thrown like 2 balls the entire time I've had the Wii, and the computer batters swing at everything.)

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Guppy06 (410832)
        "(using the robot's built-in 6D controller)"

        I thought only Sony had that kind of technology!
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        Real time mirror maybe not but you could get it to duplicate a motion w/o a pre-programmed path. A robot move usually consists of a X,Y,Z location within the operating envelope, a max speed, and whether the move is joint or linear (linear moves coordinates all axis to move along a straight line, a joint move allows the controller to select the optimum path & axis to reach the point)

        You could in fact translate the Wii output to useful robot coordinates and velocities that are within the normal robot ope
    • by kd5ujz (640580)
      Well, from the video, they program each action into the robot, the wii remote just accesses the prerecorded movements.
    • by timeOday (582209)
      Previous work [cns.atr.jp]. But as you said, not for $250. I don't think the Wii is useful for this though, it's just a crude accelerometer. Good enough to distinguish between distinct gestures but not to record trajectories.
    • "using a Wii only requires an investment of 250 USD. Plus tax. Plus Zelda (purely for scientific purposes)."

      I doubt they'd even need that. There's an app called GlovePie that'll connect your Wii-remote to your PC via bluetooth. All you'd need is $40 for the controller and some R&D to decode the Bluetooth info.
  • Next step (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I have absolutely no idea what sort of data has to be pushed via serial to the robot, but it seems like the natural next step would be software that translated the tuple of accelerations per axis from the wiimotes accelerometers into the appropriate serial data. This may, of course, be impossible with this robot, and you may only be able to specify a path to follow, after which the robot returns to its original position. However, if you can give the robot commands to move a certain direction relative to its
  • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @03:59AM (#17879560)
    After a fun day of playing "Swordsman" with the robot they accidentally hand it the Wii remote... The police find their decapitated bodies two days later and a cold oil trail leading out of the building. In the distance a faint voice is heard, "Hello. My designation is Inigo Montoya. You reprogrammed my previous model; prepare to die."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 04, 2007 @04:04AM (#17879578)
    Pay attention when there's 41 seconds to go. The guy is holding his arm up and the robot beats him to bringing it back down. The robot's arm is practically all the way down before he springs into action and brings his arm down. Looks fake as hell to me.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Actually, if you REALLY paid attention, you'd notice that regardless of whatever movements are being made, the robot arm always returns to a default position once the wiimote is no longer registering motion. After every single demonstrated swoop, the robot arm returns to the *exact* same position before they next demonstrated swoop.
    • by grumbel (592662) <grumbel@gmx.de> on Sunday February 04, 2007 @06:15AM (#17879974) Homepage
      It doesn't look fake, but it does look like they are simply using pre-recorded motions, just like almost all Wii games out there. So instead of the robot mirroring your motion, you have to to mirror a predefined motion to trigger a prerecorded motion in the robot. Looks cool, but it is pretty much useless for actually controlling the robot, since its really no different then pressing the "cool sword swing motion"-button.

      The Wiimote can't give you accurate position data, so thats pretty much all you ever get.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by freeweed (309734)
        The Wiimote can't give you accurate position data, so thats pretty much all you ever get.

        No, but the Wiimote can give you amazingly accurate ORIENTATION data, which is all you really need for this sort of application. I think the problem here is that these industrial robots aren't designed for real-time control, hence the "mimic" type actions.

        Believe me, the Wiimote can very accurately, in real time, determine exactly which way it it pointing. It's a lot more complicated than "pressing a sword swing button"
        • by grumbel (592662) <grumbel@gmx.de> on Sunday February 04, 2007 @12:59PM (#17881636) Homepage
          The Wiimote gives you two kinds of data, the coordinates of the IR LEDs of the sensorbar in 2D, which used for pointing, the x,y,z accelerations. It actually doesn't give you exact orientation, you have to derive that from the accelerations, which only works as long as you don't move it, else acceleration and gravity will overlap and you will have a hard time telling which is gravity and which is movement of the Wiimote. Also the orientation you get that way is limited to X and Y axis only, the Wiimote can't detect rotation around the Z axis via the accelerometers, however to a limit extent it might be possible to get it from the sensorbar.

          To make it short: I believe it when I see it. So far most Wii games used prerecorded motion, aka glorified button presses. Some games, such as Wii Sports, also take the speed into account, but those only work because the motion itself is very limited. Real 1:1 mapping just doesn't work with the sensor in the Wiimote, you can however of course get a lot closer to it then Zelda, which really was just lame in terms of input.
          • It actually doesn't give you exact orientation, you have to derive that from the accelerations, which only works as long as you don't move it, else acceleration and gravity will overlap and you will have a hard time telling which is gravity and which is movement of the Wiimote.

            And by 'a hard time' we mean 'if you can do it you'll overturn general relativity and win a Nobel prize'.

  • by surfcow (169572) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @04:24AM (#17879632) Homepage
    Soon, we can pornsurf with *both* hands.
  • HDDs that shut-down while falling to the ground, remotes that can be used to handle a sword, play tennis, and boxe your opponent to KO... what else?!
  • ...if you give the remote to the robot?
    • by Afrosheen (42464)
      Depends on the gender of the robot.

        A manbot will hunt for the best channel, stopping on anything with sports, explosions, or bare breasts.

      A fembot will find the channel with the most commercials and leave it on that channel, permanently. Statistically this is most likely the Oxygen channel or Lifetime.
  • by I'll Provide The War (1045190) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @04:49AM (#17879700)
    They should get together with these guys and start charging:

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-747250219 7006303244 [google.com]
  • by Kierthos (225954) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @05:40AM (#17879868) Homepage
    My name is Inigo Roboto. You degaussed my father. Prepare to die.
  • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @05:58AM (#17879926) Homepage Journal
    The wiimote is a bluetooth device and there are lots of people working on driver software for various operating systems.

    You can start at wiili [wiili.org].

    Investment cost is about £40 for the mote plus about £10 for the bluetooth dongle.
  • by mrnick (108356) on Sunday February 04, 2007 @06:24AM (#17880010) Homepage
    In my graduate studies (computer science Texas A&M U @ Commerce,TX) I have been working on a mini robotic submarine that uses accelerometers to calculate acceleration (of course), speed, and location. We also have a similar arm that was donated to the Physics department but I have not had a chance to play with it yet.

    Anyways, my question is why use wii controllers? You could order a dozen accelerometers from DigiKey for far far less than the price of the wii controller, assuming you can purchase them without buying a complete wii system. Not only would it be cheaper but you could place the accelerometers on your arm, hand, shoulder, etc in locations that most mimic the articulating parts of the actual robotic arm.

    Only thing I can guess is that by using the wii controller, and it being so new, that you get that whole 3lit3 haxor effect because wii and it's use of accelerometers is new for game controllers. Looks like it worked, getting their site slashdotted and all.

    On a side note I did use a wireless xbox (not 360) controller to control the mini robotic submarine. Did you know that those controllers are USB, Microsoft just used a non standard port? It was my intention to have events in the sub send data back that would control the force feedback in the controller but I have not been able to figure out how to send data to the gamepad to activate that function. If anyone has suggestions please let me know (sshscp@gmail.com). I am using the XBCD driver on a windows XP laptop running a program written in G (Labview 8.2.0).

    With this stuff you have to watch what you call things. If something is completely remote controlled then you can't technically call it a robot. At minimum a robot has to be able to act autonomously or perform pre-programed tasks. Currently the sub has a pre-programed task - when battery levels reach a preset point control ballasts and pumps to quickly return to the surface and then go into power consumption mode. It sounds like this arm is a robot since the controller activates a series of pre-programmed movements. But, if it were completely controlled by the accelerometers then it would be a remote controlled arm and not a robot.

    Future plans for the sub are to include autonomous mapping of it's environment. As for the arm I was thinking of working on it so that it could play chess, possibly against live opponents over the web (with a webcam). Do you think people would want to play it?

    Anyways good job on the arm guys! I can't get enough of these micro controller applications. I got the bug quick after having code that I wrote actually do something in the real world for the first time. Maybe I'll get something slashdotted someday ;)

    Nick Powers
    • by WarlockD (623872)
      It might be because the Wii remote operates at a standard Bluetooth interface and that the packet data from the remote is easy to process.

      Spend the hours it would take to build your own remote, debugging the accelerometers, creating a wireless protocol, then integrating it somehow into a laptop. Maybe, instead of this, spend $40 bucks on a remote and another $20 on a Bluetooth module, no soldering required.

      Still, with the time saved, I am sure they can go father than this, but I have a feeling that the
    • by mbessey (304651)
      Anyways, my question is why use wii controllers?

      The obvious answer would be that they wanted to do something cool on a weekend afternoon without spending weeks soldering breadboards, writing and debugging firmware, etc, etc.
  • by Nullav (1053766) <`moc' `at' `liamg.valluN'> on Sunday February 04, 2007 @06:35AM (#17880064)
    Sword impales 42" LCD HDTV, public demands stronger wrist straps.
  • It could just as easily been done with a keyboard.
    S - perform Serve
    F - forward swing
    B - backhand swing

    The are not really using the wiiMote to change the robot position.
  • Sony President Ken Kutaragi mauled to death by Wii-controlled Aibo
  • 1. Get an industrial robot 2. Dance around it with the Wii Remote 3. ???? 4. Profit!
  • Are we sure this isn't a Nintendo flog [slashdot.org]?
  • In Soviet Russia, robot arm controls you!
  • Is it just me or was this kinda underwhelming? I was picturing the robot arm reacting in realtime to each motion. Instead they were using gestures to trigger scripted movements. I guess it's still cool..but not as cool as I imagined.

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