Friday, July 29, 2016

Robot Resurrection: Another Dumb Robot

One year ago today, I wrote here "Memories Of Limping Robots", in which I expressed feeling that my 15 year old robot, Pogo, was in need of a new brain.

Pogo got his "new brain", and in fact is now sporting an "even newer brain" that is ten times more powerful than his "new brain".  The possibilities for becoming a "Smart Robot" are limited only by the fact that he/it only has me writing programs.

Pogo has not completed his resurrection, but is close.   He is in the middle of a nervous breakdown at the moment, which has brought his progress to a screeching halt.

Pogo's new features:

  • Raspberry Pi 3B processor with built-in WiFi, Blu-tooth, 1GB memory, and four cores at 1.2GHz clock.
  • Pi Droid Alpha interface expansion card with 16 digital I/O, eight 12-bit analog to digital conversion channels, Dual H-bridge motor driver, and separate chip, servo, and motor power paths.
  • HC-SR04 Ultrasonic Distance Sensor
  • GP2Y0A60SZLF Infrared Distance Sensor
  • 5 MegaPixel Color Camera
  • Tilt/Pan SG90 Servo controlled sensor platform (UltrasonicDist, IRDist, Camera)
  • ACS712 Current sensor
  • Battery Voltage sensor
  • Push Button On/Off Power Switch
  • Pololu Step-up/down 5.25V 2A regulated switching power-supply
  • Audio Speaker output (for Text-To-Speech)
  • USB microphone (PocketSphinx speech recognition)
Pogo's prior features connected to the new brain and interface:
  • Differential drive 6v 1.2A metal geared motors
  • 32 division wheel encoders
  • Full Skirt Bumper (six directions: Left, Front, Right, LeftRear, RightRear, Rear)
  • 6 C-cell 5000 mAh NiMH rechargeable battery 

I have reproduced the RugWarriorPro base library in Python, and created Python class interfaces for all the new hardware.  

So far only two RugWarriorPro behaviors have been programmed: 
  • YoYo which simply drives forward two feet then backward two feet, and 
  • Wimp which chooses an escape direction (spin if needed), tests for an obstacle blocking the escape direction, then moves six inches "away" from the bump (or turns until no obstacle blocks escape, then moves).
The "even newer brain" was an award from for testing Speech Recognition, in which my tests demonstrated that the Raspberry Pi 3B can perform real-time, language model, speech recognition using only one of the four processing cores.  It will be exciting to create a speech interface to and from the robot, (once the brain transplant is complete).

At the moment, I am diagnosing a power supply shorting issue, and bump detection has stopped working, but I hope to soon begin "Creating A Smart Robot."

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