Autonomous Robot Uses An IPhone For Its Brain

At the beginning of the school last year, [Ryan] needed to come up with a project for his master’s thesis. Having a bachelor’s in mech. engineering and doing his graduate work in software engineering allowed [Ryan] to do something really cool for his thesis; he decided to turn an iPhone into an autonomous robot with live video streaming, remote control, and  object detection.

[Ryan] started building his ArduiPhone last October with an Arduino,  motor shield, and a Magician Chassis. The software is based on an iPhone network programming tutorial that opens a socket connection to a desktop PC and relays commands to an Arduino serial port.

One of the more interesting features of [Ryan]’s ArduiPhone is the ability to stream video directly from the phone to a Java application. Instead of FaceTime, [Ryan] streams videos by converting an image from the front-facing iPhone camera to a byte array, sends it over the network, and decodes the image in a Java app. It’s low-level stuff, but the video quality is excellent and something we’ll probably be seeing more of in the future.

As always, videos after the break.



13 thoughts on “Autonomous Robot Uses An IPhone For Its Brain

    1. Like all the “new” patents that now end with “…on the internet/computer/smartphone”, this one has an iPhone and arduino :) Nonetheless it looks cool and might lead to other big things, original or not.

      I’m still waiting for my personal helping robot, and this project might encourage the builder to head in that direction, although ABB has plenty, although not affordable to the common man.

    2. It’s certainly clever enough, and cute to boot.

      There might even be a market for iphone powered telepresence bots. Plus, he’s an ME. This is pretty damn good. He clearly understands it.

      As for theses needing to be original, or even interesting, you obviously haven’t been reading these things lately – or god forbid, reviewing capstone projects for EE classes.

      I’m always amazed at how many accepted projects are either:

      a) completely fictitious with zero results
      — Well, we wanted to do X, but we bought a microcontroller that just didn’t work and we didn’t have the budget to do anything else, and nobody could be arsed to ask for help and we ran out of time because most of the team didn’t do any work and the one smart guy got drunk and had a three-way with a humanities student and somebody’s e-addled little sister and didn’t come back, so here’s a bunch of words explaining why math is hard, please let us graduate.

      b) Obviously lifted
      –We decided to implement a computer based project that does X,Y&Z and the source code is a line for line hex file lift from something published way back before the turn of the century.

      The engineering paper follows the layout of the original article, with a paragraph of two of “ethical considerations” that make a high-school psychology essay look focused.

      or my personal favorite:
      c) No ambition at all…
      We connected an arduino to some color changing LEDS and we can change the color of the LEDs based on fast the user pushes this button. We added a microphone and you can flash colors based on the sounds.

      Sadly, the team that submits using method C will probably be the most productive of the bunch.

      In the masters realm, it gets worse – just go look at any thesis produced by students in MIT’s media lab. It’s all derivative these days.

      There are some gems to be found – Stanford’s symbolics program was pretty good, and the rust belt tech colleges do alright, but dreck is the norm these days.

      A class with 12 graduating candidates will turn out 1 excellent paper or project, 2 vaguely familiar but OK projects and 8 projects that are basically rehashed stuff they found on the internet.

      Finally, 1 project will inevitably be a collection of random information copied and pasted from the internet into an incoherent document by a very attractive and VERY FRIENDLY asian girl who cannot quite understand english at strategic moments. Her prototype will be built by a geeky second year guy who thought he’d get laid by doing it. It will have nothing to do with the paper. It won’t even power on.

      She will get a B+ or higher grade on it. This will immediately piss off the other girl in the class who actually submitted real and original work, but got a C on it because the rest of her team bailed.

      I’m pretty certain school has always been like this, though.

  1. I wanted to say a lot of negative thing about this being a master thesis but whatever.He seems to have done a very good job on the software so kudos for that(btw low-leve && java == false).

  2. iPhone AND Arduino – double lame! Put a $600 device that costs $200 for Apple to build and sell on an Arduino and make them move around a little. Sheeesh. C’mon Hack-a-Day, this doesn’t even deserve the bytes to store it.

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