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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Google Android@Home and Cloud Robotic Apps on Wheels

Google announced at Google IO conference 2011 that they will supply Android@Home framework for home automation to developers, giving them the ability to think of "every appliance in your home" as a potential accessory for your phone. The Google team teased ideas like lights turning on and off based on calendar events, applications talking to washing machines, games automatically adjusting for mood lighting, and basically little green dudes taking care of all the menial duties in your house. One amazing demo was a concept, Android-powered device hub called Tungsten. Using RFID embedded into CD cases the device was able to detect the CD and add it to your library. Another touch and it started automatically.
Google + iRobot = AVAndroid
Image: Reuters, iRobot AVA with Motorola Xoom
Google also said it teamed with iRobot to create a Android applications for the iRobot Ava mobile robotics platform. iRobot CEO Colin Angle showed off a prototype AVA robot which will actually be on the market and available to developers later this year. The AVA robot works by grafting an Android tablet onto a mobile style of robot body that looks a lot like a pillar with a wide wheelbase. That base then attaches to a Motorola Xoom tablet that is not only the brains of the robot, but its sensor array. AVA is able to make maps of the areas that it navigates, as well as avoiding both stationary and moving objects, with a speed of up to 2 meters per second. The developers used an Android-based tablet because it had what they needed, but according to sources close to the project, that they are open to working with other types of tablet PCs. Business oriented versions of the robots are expected to go on sale in 2012.

Google + Android + ROS = Cloud Robotics

Developers at Google and Willow Garage announced a new rosjava library that is the first pure-Java implementation of Robot Operating System (ROS). This new library was developed at Google with the goal of enabling advanced Android apps for robotics. The library, tools, and hardware that come with Android devices are well-suited for robotics. Smartphones and tablets are sophisticated computation devices with useful sensors and great user-interaction capabilities. Android devices can also be extended with additional sensor and actuators thanks to the Open Accessory and Android@Home APIs. The new rosjava is currently still under active development (alpha release mode) and there will be changes to the API moving forward. For early adopters, there are Android tutorials to help you send and receive sensor data to a robot.

ROS Kinect Hacks 
Image: Willow Garage, TurtleBot
Willow Garage develops hardware and open source software for personal robotics applications. By investing in open source and open platform models, they aim to facilitate the use of personal robotics in everyday life.
The new TurtleBot is a mobile robot base with 3D sensing designed to explore on its own, build 3D pictures, transport objects, and more. TurtleBot comes with the best low-cost hardware components to give you a capable, autonomous platform for developing robot applications. The iRobot Create, Kinect, netbook, and gyro are all integrated together to get the most out of each.
The TurtleBot Complete kit sells for $1199.99 and includes everything you need to get started.

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