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The robot is a long-term project whose goal is to provide a means of traveling the neighborhood, and communicating with the people that it meets on the sidewalk. The robot is supposed a set of interesting problems involving mechanical engineering, computer hardware, software, and procurement. The intent is to have a robot that can be controlled via a web connection over a cellular network. The controller would be a rich client application that uses HTTPS to control and observe the actions of the robot.

The first phase of the robot has been completed. The goal was to set up a test platform to validate the ability of the on-board computer to control the drive motors via the motor controller card. The following video shows the test run which verifies completion of the step.

In this video, you may notice that the on-board computer mentions a speech subsystem, and a vision subsystem. These systems have already been incorporated into the on-board computer. The speech subsystem is a text-to-speech library which allows the robot to speak. The vision subsystem is an application which takes periodic pictures via the WebCam; the use of the vision subsystem is designed to work over a web connection with limited bandwidth, and to provide real-time pictures as to what the robot is seeing.

The next step, which is already well underway, is to have a chassis built the robot. The frame is been completed, and the wheels have been attached to the frame. What remains for this step is to build motor couplers to have the motors connected to the drive shaft. Once this is complete, the validation test will be to have the robot move across the floor in a controlled manner. After this step is complete, the development effort will shift to building the control software.