Open Source Self-Driving Smartphone Robot

Our smartphones are incredibly powerful computers in their own right, yet we don’t often see them directly integrated into projects. Intel Intelligent Systems Lab has done exactly that with the release OpenBot, an open source smartphone based self-driving robot.

Most of the magic happens on the smartphone, which runs an app built on TensorFlow Lite, and integrates the camera and array of sensors on the smartphone, as well as the data from ultrasonic sensors and wheel encoders on the robot. The robot itself is relatively simple, with four geared DC motors, motor drivers wired to an Arduino Nano that interfaces with an Android Phone over serial.

The app created by the Intel ISL team comes preloaded with three AI models that can do either person following, or two different modes of autonomous navigation. By connecting a Bluetooth controller to the smartphone and drive the robot around manually in your specific environment while collecting data, you can train a custom autonomous driving policy to suit your environment.

This looks like an excellent way to get a taste of autonomous robots on a small budget, while still being a viable base for more demanding applications. We’ve seen only a few smartphone based robots like DriveMyPhone and SmartiPresense, which don’t have AI capabilities, but are intended for telepresence applications. We’ve always wondered why we don’t see more projects with cellphones, so we welcome the example.

7 thoughts on “Open Source Self-Driving Smartphone Robot

  1. In a few years, Apple will sell you a complete unit for your iPhone for $999, but the wheelkit will be another $749.
    Then it will roam around your home and record everything, and uppload it to Aplles servers.

    Oh, and they will claim that they invented it..

  2. I do like re-using /recycling stuff. Not like this is anyway a new thing but combining CV and Nueral Net (NNAPI Android level 27+ or 8.1+) is fairly new. New enough to question what this will work on. Id venture guess that a phone older than mid 2017 may not have the resources to do squat – if it is Android 8.1 upgradeable. There may be no hardware support for any of NNAPI’s features or so the Lite version. NNTF Lite is cut down significantly from full version. ADK does have a test bench but I havent seen numbers on this app yet. Not looking hard enough I guess.
    Lack of Nueral (co)processor, little to no direct GPU support for NN, insufficient processing power on common range cellphone may make software unbearable slow to non functional. It is hinted that it will get better as intended future.
    If youre one of those folks who buys a new mid to high range phone every year and ignore resale value on a used 1-2 year old phone then maybe usable ‘ free’ phone to use.
    Big assumption that USB OTG actually works like its supposed to as well. Should. Ha.
    Not really liking the mobile platform. Is ok for new experimenter and cheap MCU. TT Motor(1:48 3-6Vdc yellow case china mart) super cheap. Key word cheap. Cant suggest driving above 4.5VDC. ~ 9VDC after ancient tech L298. Heeelll no. Not even with PWM. Solid maybe with current sense. Especially not in parallel. Murphys exists on this side of the blackhole. Besides el cheapo Nano really doesnt like 12VDC+. Going to get warm. Uno doesnt like it and it has some copper.
    Of course one can purchase a 2WD TT robot kit from china Mart around ~$20 and ~30$ for 4WD. 30$ and 40$ respectively in US. Those usually dont have slotted photo interruptors or encoder disks, but disks are probably best suited for 3D printer work rather than printing that whole model out. Nice piece of cardboard and hole punch or non reflective printout not horrible. Do need to check if TTs are two sided shaft. Reflective IR sensor to wheel mounted disk is too technical.
    There is the highly technical cell phone mount too.
    It is likely to get extras when getting the kit else@where. Like line followers, proximity sensor, bump switch, IR RX with Remote, maybe an HC-06 BT, sg90 and mount for SRF(sonar) and other modules.
    Not into USB port on board rechargeable 18650 as hinted in vid. Cuz they aint 18650 and often defective short protection. Works once or after a few dozen charges trips protection and doesnt reset. Put them with the 10000MAh and 5300mah 18650s next to Flux Capacitor and Mr. Fusion.
    Besides can wait for the CrApple certified version in four years or so for only $1748. Has to be active service phone with crApplecare. [Network guy] may or may not be hard at work making it as we chat. Im sure he’s to be underpaid and some twat will get the credit ( if any good but shit still rolls down) and bonus for it after. Its good to be a developer. Better to be in school and sucking up Grant monies. mmm Intel and a new phone and not caring if it gets smashed. Jelly.

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