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A Fully Programmable Mobile Robot 86

paxmaniac writes "iRobot has announced Create: a new fully programmable mobile robot based on the Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner. People have been hacking the Roomba since the day it came out. Well, hacking just got a whole lot easier. A command module for the Create provides a programmable 8-bit Atmel micro controller, four DB-9 ports for your own sensors, and a number of sample programs that can be compiled and uploaded to the command module via USB. Botmag has more details and some cool applications. This looks like the perfect robotics platform for hobbyists, schools, and universities alike."
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A Fully Programmable Mobile Robot

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  • by Abcd1234 ( 188840 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @06:34PM (#17530718) Homepage
    I always thought that Lego Mindstorms [] was the "the perfect robotics platform for hobbyists, schools, and universities alike", especially after the release of their NXT kit.

    Hell, if you look here [], you can see that they've:

    * Released the source to the firmware, so people can write code right down to the metal.
    * Provided *hardware* schematics, so people can hack their own gear.
    * Fully opened the specs to the programming environment, bytecode, etc, on the shipped firmware.
    * Opened up the Bluetooth protocol used by the NXT firmware.

    Additionally, they've opened the doors to third party accessories [].

    Seriously, what can a hacked Roomba offer that's better than all that?
  • by Abcd1234 ( 188840 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @06:59PM (#17531138) Homepage
    Designing and adding 3rd party sensors is a breeze.

    And it'll get even easier once Hitechnic [] releases their NXT Prototype board []. It's basically a breadboard with the I2C interface mounted and ready to go.
  • by eln ( 21727 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @07:10PM (#17531318)
    Get a TOPO []!

    I swear, every time I hear about movable robots, I think of the TOPO. We had one in my 2nd grade classroom, and you could either use the touchpad on his head to make him move or, even cooler, program several movements at once (including speech!) using an Apple II computer. Of course, it had no collision avoidance system at all, so while the idea was to get it to follow complex paths, the most common outcome was for it to execute 3 commands then run into a wall because you miscalculated the distance it was supposed to go.

    The TOPO was my earliest exposure to robotics, and it's still one of the coolest robots I've seen. They're virtually impossible to find these days, but damn it would be cool to own one.
  • So get more basic (Score:3, Informative)

    by iamlucky13 ( 795185 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @07:34PM (#17531698)
    They also sell just the command module seperately. Same for the power pack. From that you could build up your own device.

    I've been looking around for an affordable controller for a while that is a complete unit, but programmable, so I could build a custom chassis with quite a bit of versatility. This looks like it might fit the bill, although I'm still digging through the website trying to find information about the I/O. At $60 for the controller, it might be what I'm looking for.

Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits. -- Robert Louis Stevenson