Introduction: Roomblock: a Platform for Learning ROS Navigation With Roomba, Raspberry Pi and RPLIDAR

Picture of Roomblock: a Platform for Learning ROS Navigation With Roomba, Raspberry Pi and RPLIDAR

What is this?

"Roomblock" is a robot platform consists of a Roomba, a Raspberry Pi 2, a laser sensor(RPLIDAR) and a mobile battery. The mounting frame can be made by 3D printers. ROS navigation system enable to make a map of rooms and use it to reach to the goal autonomously.

Who need this?

Anyone who want to learn the cutting-edge technologies of robotic navigation, mapping, and autonomous driving. This robot can be built easily and lower cost than other commercial platforms. ROS is now de facto standard software system for robotic research field. This movie shows what is possible with ROS navigation system.

Step 1: What You Need

Picture of What You Need

Roomba

Roomba 500, 600, 700 and 800 series are available to build this system. You can buy one from local retailers or iRobot online store. It is worth to buy a Roomba to clean your room, of course!

Caution:Roomba 900 series are not available for this system, because they have no serial port.

Raspberry Pi

You can use Raspberry Pi 2 Model B. Raspberry Pi 3 may be available for this system, but not supported in this document.

USB WiFi dongle

Raspberry Pi 2 has no WiFi interface. You need a USB WiFi dongle for wireless connection. Our choice is this product, but this may only be available in Japanese market.

We found this product is a bit problematic with newer linux kernel. If you have trouble in using this device, please consult GitHub page.

This official product would be more convenient choice, however, we haven't tried with it.

RPLIDAR A2

This is a low-cost LIDAR(Laser Imaging and Ranging) sensor. It measures the distance to the object in 360 degrees around. It is a key device for robotic mapping and navigation.

USB serial cable

If you already have a USB cable for Roomba interface, you can use it. If not, we recommend to modify this USB-serial cable for creating one.

Mobile battery

Raspberry Pi and RPLIDAR are driven by a mobile battery. We choose this product, however, you can choose anything with similar size and capacity.

Local PC

You need a PC installed Ubuntu and ROS for processing ROS client and user interface. The PC needs to be on the same LAN with Raspberry Pi on the robot. You can log in the Raspberry Pi via SSH.

Joy pad (Optional)

If you have a joy pad for PC, you can use it to control the robot smoothly. But don't worry, if you don't have any joy pads, you can still use the keyboard to control the robot.

Raspberry Pi camera module (Optional)

If you have Raspberry Pi camera module, you can attach it to the system. You can use it to tele-operate the robot with first person view.

Step 2: Build a Base Frame

Picture of Build a Base Frame

3D printing

The base frame is a shelf-like structure designed to be mounted on the Roomba. You can download 3D printable data (STL) from Thingiverse.

We used UP! plus2 and ABS filament, "normal" setting with 0.2mm pitch.

Assembling

  • Using adhesive to the bottom of pillars makes it easy to assemble.
  • A wide rubber band is attached for fixing the mobile battery.
  • M2.5 screws are used to fix the Raspberry Pi.
  • M3 screws are used to fix RPLIDAR to the plate.
  • Use pieces of Velcro tape to fix it on Roomba top.

Step 3: Build a USB-serial Cable (Optional)

Picture of Build a USB-serial Cable (Optional)

USB-serial cable

If you don't have USB-serial cable for Roomba, you can build it easily with this product.

Notice that the Roomba's inerface is TTL (5V).

Connector

You need a mini-DIN 8 pin connector for the Roomba's serial interface. Actually Roomba's connector is mini-DIN 7 pin, however, it is much easier to buy a 8 pin than 7 pin connector.

Soldering

Solder the serial cable to the 8 pin connector. Check the connection by the attached picture, and the document of Roomba open interface specification.

Please note, it is safe to connect Vcc(Red) and RTS(Green) for avoiding the hardware flow issue.

Step 4: Setup Raspberry Pi Camera Module (Optional)

Picture of Setup Raspberry Pi Camera Module (Optional)

If you have Raspberry Pi camera module, you can attach it to Raspberry Pi. This is optional for learning navigation, however, it is fun to get a view from the robot eyesight.

The camera mount part is also included in frame data on Thingiverse. The camera module can be fixed with four M2 screws.

Step 5: Setup Local PC

Picture of Setup Local PC

Install Ubuntu

Install Ubuntu 16.04 desktop following the official page

Install ROS

Plase consult ROS official page. Install Kinetic desktop full packages.

Install Roomblock ROS package

You need to install roomblock package from source code. The source code of the package is on GitHub.

Please follow the instruction in README.md.

If you have any problem or question concerning the software, please make an issue on GitHub Issues so that we can track the problems efficiently. Please avoid to post them on Instructables.

Step 6: Setup Raspberry Pi

Picture of Setup Raspberry Pi

Install Ubuntu

Install Ubuntu 16.04 to the Raspberry Pi following the install guide:

Install ROS

Install ROS Kinetic following the install guide:

Install Roomblock ROS package

You need to install roomblock package from source code. The source code of the package is on GitHub.

Please follow the instruction in README.md.

If you have any problem or question concerning the software, please make an issue on GitHub Issues, so that we can track the problems efficiently. Please avoid to post them on Instructables.

Raspberry Pi camera module(Optional)

If you have a Rasberry Pi camera module, you need to install libraspberrypi-dev. Please consult README.md in Github.

Step 7: Tele-operation

Picture of Tele-operation

Bring up the base system on Raspberry Pi

First of all, you need to bring up the sysem. On the Raspberry Pi terminal, launch the basic system as:

$ export ROS_IP=IP_ADDRESS_OF_RASPBERRY_PI
$ roslaunch roomblock_bringup roomblock.launch 

RPLIDAR start to spin, and now you can connect to the robot ROS master from your local PC.

Tele-operation from local PC

You can use a joy pad to operate the robot. If you have a joy pad of XBox, you can use this launch file. Otherwise, you may need to modify the launch file to fit your joy pad. Plase consult the ROS wiki pages for detail.

$ export ROS_MASTER_URI=http://IP_ADDRESS_OF_RASPBERRY_PI:11311<br>$ roslaunch roomblock_bringup teleop.launch

Now you can control the Roomba with joystick.

Instead, you can use a keyboard.

$ export ROS_MASTER_URI=http://IP_ADDRESS_OF_RASPBERRY_PI:11311<br>$ rosrun teleop_twist_keyboard teleop_twist_keyboard.py

Please consult the ROS wiki pages for detail.

Step 8: Launch the Mapping Software

Picture of Launch the Mapping Software

Bring up the mapping software on local PC

Bring up the mapping software to create the map around the robot.

$ export ROS_MASTER_URI=http://IP_ADDRESS_OF_RASPBERRY_PI:11311<br>$ roslaunch roomblock_mapping gmapping.launch

Now you can see Rviz(visualization software). Operate the robot around the room to create a map of the room.

You can consult the ROS wiki page for mapping system.

Step 9: Launch the Autonomous Navigation

Picture of Launch the Autonomous Navigation

Bring up autonomous navigation software

Now you can start autonomous navigation system on the local PC as:

$ export ROS_MASTER_URI=http://IP_ADDRESS_OF_RASPBERRY_PI:11311<br>$ roslaunch rolomblock_navigation amcl.launch

You can use Rviz to specify the goal. The robot should go to the goal autonomously.

Please consult the ROS wiki page for the autonomous system.

Have fun!

If you have general questions or problems about ROS, please consult the ROS wiki. We cannot answer to general questions on ROS.

If you have any problem or question concerning the Roomblock software, please make an issue on GitHub Issues so that we can track the problems efficiently. Please avoid to post them on Instructables.

Comments

AlexR364 (author)2017-06-29

Very nice project. Great work! I have a spare roomba lying around somewhere in my house. I will try to replicate this. Thanks for sharing.

Alex

longjie0723 (author)AlexR3642017-07-02

Thank you Alex. I hope many people have fun with Roomba.

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