Robot Maps Rooms with Help From iPhone

The Unity engine has been around since Apple started using Intel chips, and has made quite a splash in the gaming world. Unity allows developers to create 2D and 3D games, but there are some other interesting applications of this gaming engine as well. For example, [matthewhallberg] used it to build a robot that can map rooms in 3D.

The impetus for this project was a robotics company that used a series of robots around their business. The robots navigate using computer vision, but couldn’t map the rooms from scratch. They hired [matthewhallberg] to tackle this problem, and this robot is a preliminary result. Using the Unity engine and an iPhone, the robot can perform in one of three modes. The first is a user-controlled mode, the second is object following, and the third is 3D mapping.

The robot seems fairly easy to construct and only carries and iPhone, a Node MCU, some motors, and a battery. Most of the computational work is done remotely, with the robot simply receiving its movement commands from another computer. There’s a lot going on here, software-wise, and a lot of toolkits and software packages to install and communicate with one another, but the video below does a good job of showing what you’ll need and how it all works together. If that’s all too much, there are other robots with a form of computer vision that can get you started into the world of computer vision and mapping.

9 thoughts on “Robot Maps Rooms with Help From iPhone

    1. One reason he used an iPhone is that Google’s ARCore doesn’t recognize vertical surfaces. This is one thing that Apple’s ARKit has that can be very useful. This was as of a couple of months ago and I haven’t looked at maybe a new release of ARCore.

      1. I’ve used Google’s Measure app to check the height of vertical surfaces like door or window heights. It uses ARCore to do this so it definitely handles verticals now.

        Perhaps someone will take up the challenge and make an ARCore version.

  1. What a great video! Very refreshing to watch with my Sunday morning cornflakes . The use of bad language makes it much more accessible. The fact that his mum pestered him to do something useful with his life meant I could relate to the author. If all videos/scientific papers were done like this I would spend far less time yawning.

  2. Geez. . . the level of intelligence, curiosity and persistence it takes to integrate such a diverse set of tools into a functioning demo never ceases to impress me.

    Bravo.

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