iRobot Releases Hackable Roomba — Without The Vacuum

We love forward thinking companies that take a risk and do something different. iRobot, the company behind the iconic Roomba, just released the newest version of their Roomba Create — a programmable Roomba (minus the vacuum) that can be hacked and programmed to do all sorts of things.

The company developed the Create with STEM students in mind — a robotics learning platform. It came out originally back in 2007, and we’ve covered many hacks that have made use of it. Many. Like, a lot. One of our favorites has got to be this data center monitoring robot that makes use of the platform!

Anyway, the newest version of the Create features the typical hardware upgrades you’d expect, and with some special emphasis on 3D printing. In fact, the CEO of iRobot [Colin Angle] thinks that 3D printing is going to make a big difference in a few years:

“Your Roomba could be a software file that you print at home,” he says. He says the Create’s new features are a way for the company to get ready for that day, while also providing a platform that educators and hobbyists can use to tinker.

Kudos to you guys, iRobot! We just wish people would stop giving Roomba’s knives…

[Thanks PSUbj21!]

Roomba becomes data center robot

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Running a data center takes a lot of work, and even making sure the ambient temperature for hundreds of boxes is in the proper range is an arduous task. When faced with the prospect of installing hundreds of temperature sensors in an EMC data center, [Vivek] had a better idea: put just a few sensors on a robot and drive around the racks. With the right software, it’s a breeze to automate the process and build a near real-time temperature monitoring solution for a huge data center.

The data center robot is based on a iRobot Create, basically a Roomba without a vacuum. Attached to the robot is a netbook, Arduino, and a PVC mast housing three temperature sensors and a USB webcam.

Using the floor of the data center for navigation, the robot canvasses the racks sending temperature data back to a server via WiFi. From there, the temperatures can be graphed to make sure the racks aren’t too hot or too cold.

You can check out a video of the robot in action after the break.

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Robot cares for grave stones while honoring the dead

This robot was built to care for the graves and honor the dead in the Jewish tradition. It is called “Stoney” and was developed by [Zvika Markfeld] based on a concept by [Itamar Shimshony] who is working toward an MFA degree. The image above shows it in action as part of an installation; to our knowledge it has not been used for actual grave sites. But the concept is not a joke; it’s something that makes the observers think.

The base of the robot is an iRobot Roomba on top of which is built a platform for a robot arm. The arm has easy access to two palettes, one holds small stones, and the other flowers. There is also a small box which holds a rag. It navigates around the grave, placing stones, flowers, and using the rag and a water dispenser to symbolically clean the headstone. All of this is controlled by an Arduino Mega board which controls another Arduino running the arm, as well as the microcontroller in the Roomba.

The details of the ritual, as well as the components of the robot are well explained in the clip after the break.

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Voice controlled robot controlled by an Android phone

[Jeff] sent in a build of a voice controlled robot he just finished based on the Android ADK and an iRobot Create.

The robot is able to obey voice commands telling it where to go. Currently the robot responds to forward, reverse, left, right, stop, and ‘whistle while you work.’ It’s a creative use of the Android ADK with some obvious applications, but this project really shines with the write up on instructables. It’s rare that we’ve seen a project so well documented; it’s a great project for someone who wants to get their feet wet in the world of robotics.

[Jeff]’s write up goes through the steps of hooking up the ADK board to iRobot and providing all the electronic necessities. [Jeff] graciously provided the code for his robot if anyone would like to add to his project.

The ultimate goal [Jeff] is currently working towards is something akin to a TurtleBot, while keeping the voice control of the robot. In all, a very nice project.

Inexpensive robot platform combines mass-produced parts

Meet Bilibot, a modular robot that aims to lower the cost of entry for robotic tinkerers. It combines the Kinect, the iRobot Create, and an Ubuntu box running ROS using some laser cut mounting brackets. These are relatively inexpensive components but the most exciting thing is that there’s already a slew of example out there that use this hardware. For instance, we looked in on ROS body tracking in January that can be directly plucked and used with this hardware. You’ll recognize the base as the iRobot create which was used in video chat robot from last week. The brains of the operation come in a choice of three Linux boxes – two headless and one laptop – which have ROS pre-installed. Watch the open-source autonomy as it tools around the office in the video after the break.

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Low-cost video chat robot

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[Johnny Chung Lee], having recently moved from Seattle to Mountain View, wanted a way to keep in touch with his fiancé who would not be relocating for several more months. While most of us would likely consider purchasing a pair of web cams to keep in touch, he decided to do things his own way.  Using an iRobot Create and a netbook, both about $250 apiece, he constructed a remote-controlled video chat robot that he can steer around his former abode from 1,000 miles away. While $500 might seem expensive at first, [Johnny] reminds us that commercial versions likely run into the thousands of dollars.

The whole setup is controlled using custom software to manage the movement of the robot, which can be used in conjunction with freely available videoconferencing applications, such as Skype. He also modified the iRobot’s charging station to charge both the robot and the netbook simultaneously – a process he explains, but precedes with several disclaimers.  Like some of his previous projects we have covered, he has made the C# source used in this project available for download on his site, along with documentation for both the control software and dock modifications.

Check out video of the robot in action after the jump.

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iRobot gets awesome exploding rope thingy

The iRobot Warrior 710 is shown here touting a new toy called an APOBS or Anti-Personnel Obstacle  Breaching System.  The system is comprised of an explosive rope pulled by a rocket. We know that sounds pretty awesome, and you can see in the video that it is, in fact, pretty awesome. We don’t condone violence, or war. We do, however, love blowin’ stuff up. This footage was just so pretty, we thought we had to share it. What’s even more amazing is that these guys aren’t battling Apple over the name iRobot.

[via botjunkie]