Let's Make Robots!


Telepresence. Human/Computer interaction (speech, movement). Autonomous mode using A* in a controlled environment.

Update 03/24/2014

He speaks!  Re-did the head, using a bunch of 3D printed corner brackets to hold it together vs glue like before.  Also installed a speaker from a spare computer speaker set I had, as well as built an access panel on the top of the head (vs before where I just pulled off the top that was wedged in).  I also made the Arduino interface a little cleaner, using a prototyping shield to sit on top, vs the separate breadboard I was using before.

The voice in the video is not his eventual voice.  It will sound more high-pitched and robotic as I'm going to feed the input through a modified kids voice changer toy.  Also, the audio in the video is just a pre-recorded sample from the ATT Natural Voices website.  The plan is to actually use FreeTTS for speech synthesis.  But I wanted to test out the system before going to bed, and of course wanted to show it off here!

Update 03/11/2014

Posting a photo of RT at the SXSW Create event.  Wish I got more photos/videos, but I was too busy driving the robot to man the camera.


Update 03/07/2014

Hooked up Neopixel ring lights and posting a video of it going through the different patterns.

The eyes can do 10 different patterns and 8 different colors.  When not in "attract" mode, the patterns and colors are set using serial commands over usb from the host computer.

Update - 03/03/2014

More updates.  Just recieved a pan-tilt system hand-machined by a friend.  Thought some of you might be interested in photos of it, so I'm adding a bunch of different views.  You can see the NeoPixel LED ring holders on the head now and the ultrasonic sensors on the front (positioning will change when second layer is added on).  Also, I plan to cut the PVC pipe for the neck in half to aid with balance issues.

New images of the latest design of RT-01.  Using only one section for the torso instead of two until the second layer is actually needed. 

RT with paint job


The RT Series robot will be a 5' tall robot.  It uses two geartrains from a Power Wheels ride on toy, and two Parallax HB-25 motor controllers for motor control.   An Arduino currently serves as an interface between the Acer One netbook (the same one on Geoffrey), and the motor control.
Eventually the RT-01 robot will be jam packed with processing power and sensors.  Currently slated is.

  • 1 Microsoft Kinect w/ depth sensor, RGB camera, and 4 microphones
  • 4 other web cameras (2 in the eyes, 1 in the back, and one pointing down to the ground to track motion)
  • 1 speaker unit (located in the "mouth" area
  • 8 HC-SR04 Ultrasonic sensors
  • An array of bump sensors (amount and kind tbd)
  • 2 microphones located on the sides of the head.

For processing power.

  • 1 - Intel 1.7 ghz processor with 2 gb RAM and 80 gb hdd
  • 1 - Arduino Uno @ 16mhz
  • 1 - Arduino Mega 2560
  • 1 - Raspberry Pi
  • 1- Dual Core Android Tablet @ 1.2 ghz

These processing systems will be connected together to provide modularity.
The system will be open source, and both the hardware and software process will be documented for replication.

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Looking better and better.  Got any video of A* Pathfinding in action?

I think RT-01 might single-handedly bring back disco!

How's that Pan&Tilt working out?  Will your friend make another and for how much?  Seriously.

Fun stuff indeed.  Watch out Travolta, RT-01 is coming to town.  - Martin

The pan/tilt shouldn't be too far out.  My friend couldn't find his USB2Dynamixel for me to use, but I'm going to be borrowing a CM-5, which I can control via serial interface to run the dynamixel servos.

Now that I've had the bot requested for a birthday party for the 29th, I have a deadline to get it up and working (even if it's hacked together to run for one night).

my friend is a machinist by trade, so he only does extra work for stuff that he's personally invested in.  but, I could ping him again in a few months.


Weird how much personality the neopixels around the "eyes" add.

Did you ever get your NeoPixel rings up and running?

I'm curious how they look as robot eyes.

I've had fun using NeoPixel rings but I haven't thought of a good way of using them as robot eyes yet. 

Thanks for posting.

Just updated with the rings mocked up.  Not the best video quality but it was late at night.  The important part is seeing the blinking.  I think it adds a lot of personality.

I agree, the rings do add a lot.

You've just about convinced me to use rings on one of my bots.

I think one issue I have is none of my bots are nearly as large as yours so the rings are a bit too big. I guess I need to build a bigger robot.

Nice work. Thanks for the update.

Yes, I'm blessed with some great friends.  One of my friends made an Arduino program for me where I can send serial commands to change the color and switch between 6 different patterns.  The main thing I wanted was the ability for it to "blink", which really takes it to the next level on looking alive.

I'll try to get the rings installed and some video up soon.  Next weekend is SXSW, so it might have to wait until the weekend after.

Thanks for looking!

Very nice, love how its coming along.  I love this project.  So much you can do by just building the thing big to begin with, room for batteries, PCs, arms if you want.   What's not to like?

You mentioned the 4 sonars.  How is that working out?  I did a whole lotta testing with walls to come up with the 30 degree spacing, and it is still not as good as I think it could be.  I wish I could find a way to do it with less than 9.  Your bot has room for plenty around the body.  I'd go 20 degrees in the front, and go 30 degrees or more around the back half, but write software to hit the ones in the front two or three times for every one ping on the rear ones when moving.  Thats my two cents.

I didn't realize when you posted on SuperDroidBot that you were the RT-1 guy.  I'd like to find some way to help/share if I can on the AI piece.  RT-01 is the bot I wanted to build but didn't have the nerve to my first time around.

I'm dying to know what kind of standards you adopted to communicate and coordinate commands/messages/whatever you call them across all that hardware and software.  I came up with something for mine (that was not the greatest because I had to communicate to Arduinos through USB which I was new to).   I'm guessing you pulled off something better.




gonna be honest with you, right now, I'm at a "fake it till you make it" stage.  What you are seeing is embryonic.  The sonars are in, and I've run the demo Arduino code to see how they work, but they're not hooked up.  There are 4 sonars in the front, 1 on each side, and 2 in the back.

I'm going to rely more on the fusion between the stereoscopic cameras, the kinect, and the sonars to give me a good view of the world.  I've run through the Kinect tutorials, got them working, and also got OpenCV working.  I still have to do the tutorials for the 6-axis gyroscope/accelerometer that I just got, as well as build some wheel encoders.

At different parts I focus on different things.  Lately, I've been focusing on public demonstration, so autonomy isn't that important.  I've actually just been using an RC Reciever/VEX transmitter combo to drive it around at different events for children.  Just this past Saturday I took it to a Lego competition and drove it around as part of the technology expo.  I find that RC control is more reliable and less battery hungry than computer control.  I know that will make some people consider it not a robot, but eh, semantics.

I will definitely take your advice into consideration.  I currently have 8 total sonar sensors, but SR04's are cheap and I can pick up a handlful more easily.

Anways, I just didn't want lead you or anyone else here on, there's a lot of pie in the sky stuff with RT going on, and the only reason I'm posting updates is to hopefully inspire people to build big robots by showing them how simple they can be.  I mean RT at it's core is a Power Wheels Ride-On, some PVC, plywood and screws.  Don't be afraid to build that big bot, you can do it.  That's my message.  Luckily at least one other person has taken that message to heart, you can check out his bot here.