Ideas for the iRobot Create Challenge

You can read all about the contest here, but the group forums are going to be the place where you can submit your ideas for hacking the iRobot Create. Instructables will be judging the entries, and the top 15 ideas will win Creates.

You only get to keep them though if you actually post an entry into the contest, so please keep your ideas realistic.

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sj.blackwood10 years ago
I'd like to enter a scholarship idea. Something that I think would be useful and whimsical would be a couch potato's assistant: a robot that can respond to a handclap or voice and move to that place, delivering my collection of remote controls. If there is time to add more complexity, it might be useful to have the robot sense motion and turn off the media center if there has been no movement in a specified period of time.
I was just talking to my wife last night about making a Create do EXACTLY what you describe. I was going to put the remotes on top at a handy level so you don't even need to take them off. It would home-in on the clapping sound, then return to it's corner after no sound/motion after a while. Good idea on turning off the media center stuff. I've been working with IR Remote stuff and could make the Create into a Learning Remote to be able to do that. Hmmmmm.
Tiak10 years ago
My idea would be to create a passive robot security system. Imagine yourself as a would-be thief, breaking into an apparently empty home. Imagine entering this home through whatever means to suddenly hear a robotic battle charge and see a tiny robot shining in your general direction a bright light under what appears to be a sharp, quickly spinning series of blades. The hack would ideally have the features described, a motion detection system, a custom dock (situated such that it stretches under the robot, such that it can be facing away for quick exit/battle-charge, and, in a perfect world, an interface with a wireless phone that would dial 9-11 and play a pre-recorded message in case it finds itself disabled in an unexpected way (one would take their phone off the hook/unplug the wired base for the phone should they need to do this). As for negotiating moving around with a spinning blade of a larger radius than the bot itself, I would assume one would make liberal use of "invisible walls".
adrian10 years ago
SlimCat Many indoor cats suffer from a lack of exercise, resulting in both emotional and health problems (obesity). Letting these cats live outdoors in not plausible in many city environments; cars, predators and other hazards force owners to keep their pets in doors. SlimtCat, our proposed contest entry, solves this problem by forcing cats to chase their food indoors. The vacant area on the iRobot robot kit will store the cat’s food in such a way that the cat cannot get to it. The robot will use a hobby servo-motor to gate food out of a small hole in the servo area. Finally the robot will use either short-range IR or other sensors to detect the presence of the cat and obstacles. The device will remain deactivated until its bump sensor senses the cat’s assault. It will then begin dodging obstacles in a simple reactive manner and periodically dropping food. After a set timeout it will deactivate again. Thus, the system will only drop food when the cat is actively hungry and pursuing. Catnip or catnip extract could be added at a owner’s discretion.
SacTownSue adrian10 years ago
I can see it now... poor little cat standing at the intersection of kitchen door with cardboard sign "will work for food". Good idea. This is one of the better pet related, aside from cleaning up after them, ideas. It could also give them a treat. Once an hour, after a few minutes chase. Or something like that. Maximum about of food per some period. I, most importantly, want to thank you for not turning your pet loose outside. I have had problems with mice coming in from under my house. I had to resort to chemical warfare under the house. I don't know if any of the cats ate the sick mice. But I haven't had problems with cats for about the same time as the last time I had a mouse inside. I also am fed up with other peoples cats and dogs using my yard as a toilet. Cats especially like my veggie garden, so I lay rose bush clippings in the bed. It was the safest surest way of keeping the cats out of the bed that I have been able to find. I don't hate cats I hate their shit. It reeks! Good luck with your bot.
haha u r funni "will work for food" =]
jclune10 years ago
Hello. I think I posted this earlier but do not see it on this site, so I am posting it again here. Sorry for the potential double post.

Proposal: Evolve the Artificial Intelligence of an iRobot Create that can Traverse Mazes

I am doing a PhD in computer science at Michigan State University in the Digital Evolution Lab ( My PhD involves evolving intelligence, which uses evolutionary computation to try to evolve, instead of engineer, artificial intelligence. I propose to try to evolve the controller of the iRobot Create to be able to solve mazes of increasing complexity. I would evolve neural nets that took the iRobot Create’s sensor information as inputs (most likely via the 'streaming sensor data' mode) and the outputs of the neural net would control the robot. The robot will learn on its own how to get better and better at traversing mazes. This same technology could then be used to have the robot do different tasks (such as cover a room, or chase/avoid another iRobot Create in a game of cat and mouse). Most of this type of work occurs in simulation because, as graduate students, we do not have the resources to buy robots. This scholarship and contest would be a blessing to me, as it would allow me to work with robots in the real world.

Evolutionary computing simulates natural selection in a computer. It uses the 'survival of the fittest' rule. The difference is that, instead of plants and animals competing, different versions of software are battling for their place in the next generation. Natural selection, plus a lot of time, produced all the life on this planet. In a computer world, because generations can happen in microseconds, we do not need millions of Earth years to pass before interesting things begin to happen.

The simulation would be set up so that the better programs will have lots of kids (versions similar but not identical) in the next generation and weaker software will die out. In this case, 'better' programs would be those that get closer to the end of the maze (where a docking station would be placed). Over time the software will become better and better since mutations (random changes in the program) occasionally produce a program that is a slight improvement over its parents. This slightly better software will thrive for a while until it too is replaced by the next slightly better software. Given enough generations, these small changes can add up to produce jaguars, whales, Olympians and poets. Hopefully they can also produce iRobot Create's that are great at solving mazes!

I do not know how far I would be able to get in this project before the end of the contest deadline. I hope to be able to get a proof of concept going. At a minimum, however, I would continue to work on this project after the contest ends and would be glad to share my results with the iRobot Create community and acknowledge the scholarship gift in any papers published on the subject. The iRobot Create is perfect for this work because researchers in the field frequently use robots like this one. As such, this design is someone of an industry standard. Unfortunately, each research team must build or find their own version of this robot archetype. If it proves effective, the iRobot Create could become an industry standard. It would also be good to use because the preprogrammed modules such as "cover and dock" and "mouse" could serve as interesting programs to compete the evolved solutions against.

If desired, I would be more than happy to provide more information and or references about this technique.

Jeff Clune

SacTownSue10 years ago
I heard the Etsy competition seemed bog down this site and I suspect that is also going to happen toward the end of this competition because of all the time involved building and the time involved in photographing and documenting the instructable. For the people that can afford to buy the Create and have already started that might not be a problem but the rest of us will probably be struggling that last week.
jeffreyf (author)  SacTownSue10 years ago
Hi Sue, Fear not. Only the idea phase of the competition is ending. The full iRobot contest is going on until the 31st of August, which should give you plenty of time.
Interesting that about the time I sent this before 4PST this site was basically inaccessible for about two hours. I guess ppl are trying to submit their "laser challenge" projects.
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