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Smartphone Controlled Robots for Education and !ndustry

 

The Idea

To equip robots or production of complex tasks, it is inevitable to use methods of artificial intelligence, using software agents through knowledge of the application domain and their own abilities, strategies to Achieve complex tasks develop. However, is the dynamic Behavior of such autonomous systems is one of the biggest obstacles for wider acceptance of this dar. order to understand such systems can the behavior of each agent and the whole system must by Software Visualization visible and their behavior to make it understandable. the project engaged in trying to take advantage of mobile devices, for example, to realize by means of developed camera and touchscreen augmented reality and thus to simplify the interaction between man and machine. This is partly to a lighter industrial application of agent technology will allow, and on the other hand the complex field of robotics through intuitive user interfaces for use in the Training of young people to be simplified.

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AndriX

AndriX aims to bring robotics to personal, educational and science domain by providing a simple, flexible and affordable robot controller. This controller simply consists of the user’s smartphone, an electronics board and software making robot programming intuitive and easy to learn.

The field of robotics is very diverse and has various applications, especially in educational, research and home sections. It is the perfect tool for drawing interests of young people in areas of technology and science, not least because it uses current technology and connects theory and practice. There are many applications in science and research as well. Nevertheless, we think that robotics is underrepresented in mentioned fields – there are some solutions and products, however, most of them are very application specific, complicated and expensive. It’s time for a simple, consistent and universal robotics system.

AndriX is the concept of a robot controller for education and home use, which furthermore satisfies basic research requirements, in order to promote robotics in those fields. It is fitted to satisfy three main requirements:

  • Performance: enough computational power and memory for complex research applications
  • Usability: easy to use and intuitive, in order to support the user
  • Affordability: available for everybody and inexpensive purchase and usage

To satisfy those requirements, we chose to use common smartphones. Smartphones as controller have enough performance because of their current hard- and software, are very usable due to their intuitive user interface and are affordable because of their variety and distribution. With AndriX it is our vision to bring robotics closer to the society and to draw interest in technology and science, especially with girls and women. The picture on the right shows that we are on a promising way.

Das Concept

To use a smartphone as robot controller, some additional hardware that enables connecting and controlling robot components such as sensors, motors and servos is required. That hardware (mentioned as Low-Level Control, LLC) and the smartphone (mentioned as High-Level Control, HLC) are connected and share information. AndriX consists of three core components which are responsible for different tasks. The LLC consists of two components: The Hardware Controller connects and controls robot components, holds the battery and manages the connection to the smartphone. The Software Controller saves and executes user-defined programs, which means it contains the robot’s logic. On the other side there is the HLC consisting of the smartphone, where software libraries do the communication with the LLC and include built-in sensors like accelerometer, camera, etc. An App named AndriX Control Center is the interface to the user, enabling robot testing by accessing sensors, motors and servos, as well as developing programs that get downloaded to the Software Controller and get executed. Any communication is adhering to the AXCP and AXDP protocols that have been specified by us. The following figure illustrates the concept.

AndriX Concept

The Status

Since the beginning of the project, we worked on the hardware and could develop two versions ofprototypes so far. The picture shows the current one. It supports up to 16 analog sensors, 16 digital sensors, 6 motors and 5 servos. The prototypes have been successfully presented at the Global Conference on Educational Robotics 2012 and 2013 and at the ORF Lange Nacht der Museen 2013.
andrix-controller

 

The current version of the AndriX Control Center can control sensors, motors and servos, which are connected to the hardware, as well as built-in sensors in the smartphone. The smartphone camera can be used for simple color detection. Recently added features such as the WiFi-Lookup or the development environment are still in development. Currently, the Control Center works with Android Version 2.2 or higher. Versions of the Control Center for iOS and Windows Phone 8 are in development and will be released together with the Android version.
andrix-sensors
For executing user-defined programs, we developed an intuitive user interface. It contains different views that document precisely what is happening with the robot. The picture shows the event view on the left side, which shows all actions with the robot attached with a timestamp, and the camera view on the right, which shows all recognized color objects that are used in the program. This enables to user to easily comprehend the behavior of the robot and opens new ways of debugging.
andrix-test-2
andrix-camera
In November 2013 the concept of AndriX was presented at the international research conference Robionetics in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Because of using a WiFi-Controller, it is now possible to connect the smartphone via WiFi. The smartphone App was renamed from “AndriX Control Center” to “AndriX” and was slightly changed. As you can see on the right hand side, the application shows a ‘not connected’ text, if the smartphone has no connection with the hardware controller. Only with a connection it is possible to use the external components of AndriX, such as the motors, servos or sensors. Also, for the first time a software controller was implemented, which is also part of the controller case: the Raspberry Pi. By that, it is possible to write programs, compile them and execute them. Therefore a section called ‘programs’ was integrated into the AndriX App where a small IDE is available for writing programs and transferring them to the controller.
andrix-cc-new
andrix-programs


The new controller supports controlling 6 motors. Because of the push buttons, the speed and the direction can be changed. Also it is possible to use 6 servos, which can also be turned on and off by the push buttons. On the front of the controller, there is the possibility to connect 16 digital and 16 analog sensors. Furthermore, the development of the AndriX iOS version goes on. Because of the ambitious work, first successes can be seen as it possible to control motors and servos with it. Through the new version of AndriX, the hardware was newly developed. Because of the new design, the controller has more power, but the price didn’t change.

 

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