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(Last updated: Saturday February 21, 2009)

Robotics, AI and Machine Learning

I've decided to start a Robots page as an extension of my Smart Home pages. I consider robotics and smart homes to be an natural extension of one another. Actually the reason for the robots was so I had a platform to test out ideas and algorithms be attempting to implement them. I'm learning AI and most ideas deal with a mobile device. A small robot would make an ideal test platform. My wife has some pretty strict rules about testing with the house and purchasing a second house ain't gonna happen. ;-)

As usual, I guess, these are more my notes than anything else and will be a mess until things start to take shape. Everything is pretty willy-nilly at the moment. I've collected a lot of information in the last two weeks and I have it scattered across several machines (one in need of repair).

  • This deserves it's rightful place at the head of the pack. My friend Andy Meyer (Hi Andy) came over to me one day and showed me this article in Omni Magazine (1988) for the "The Omni Photovore: How to Build a Robot that Thinks like a Roach" by John Connell. It's a simple robot made up of a Radio Shack Red Fox Racer, an IR transmitter and receiver, some logic and a few discrete components. It demonstrated a few very simple robot behaviors (fight or flight). It is a very cool robot and I still have it and the article somewhere around here. Here's a gentleman who's still selling them.

  • I am currently waiting on this robot: the BOL-BOT Full Kit - Serial and USB Connectors. I purchased it from A-WIT locate in southern NJ (not too far from my home :-). It's on back order (update: arrived 2009/04/04) but once it arrives it will be my test platform for AI/Machine Learning code. Unlike other robots out there it uses C (I'm good with C) and not PBasic. I'm currently working on getting my Linux environment setup to develop code. I'm attempting to use Wine and so far it seems to be going well. I think I can use the standard make utility setup with Wine and Microchip's MCC18. So far that's working well. I've create a Linux/Bol-Bot page to explain how to setup the Bol-Bot environment under Linux. I even figured out how to get wine to run DOS batch files (that was a pain and rather obvious, once I figured it out). I'm currently investigating code to run the 7 x 7 maze at the TCF2009 Robotics Contest (ROBOCON). I've never been to one before and I must be nuts to try (school, family et al.) but why not try? The worst I can do is fail and at least I will have learned something in the process.

  • The TCF Robotics Competition which is held at The College of NJ
  • Dr. Orlando Hernandez's TCF Robotics Competition page. Dr Hernandez is a professor at The College of NJ where the competition is held.
  • Society of Robots - a lot of useful information here.
  • Seattle Robotics
  • Maze
  • Line follow
  • edge detection
  • Micromouse competition information. This is a useful page so I've posted it here.
  • More on the Micromouse (different site).
  • While poking around, search for various robotic topics I came across this message asking for help wit "How to code Micromouse on ATMega32". The user Admin responded with this message:

    Here's a really cool Youtube video of a micromouse competition. The really part is the first micromouse, it's fast! Watch how it goes about running the maze, how it returns to the start and then reruns the maze. Amazing the remander of the video is other competitors who don't fair as well.


    source code for ATmega168:

    but my code doesn&'t find walls, it just finds objects . . . but it should get you started!
    and a video I literally just uploaded:

  • Robosapien - I've got one and I'll post hacks here. For now take a look at Evosapien and Robodyssey for hacking information

  • My Owirobot 535 robotic arm. I haven't attached this to a computer yet. It was easy to build and building a computer control interface looks like it won't be too much trouble. Making it close looped will be as that wasn't the intent of this kit. But then I wouldn't be hacking an expensive kit would I? ;-)

  • Lego Mindstorm - I've also got this and I'll post hacks here. To be honest this is probably the start of my 'engineering' career. ;-)