Introduction: IRobot Create Personal Home Robot

Introducing a personal home robot built around the iRobot Create platform and a mini-itx computer system.

It has never been easier and more affordable to design and build robots by leveraging the economies of scale from the software, PC, toy and other high volume consumer industries.

This robot was created to show people that with a bit of imagination and ingenuity, robots can be used for real useful work around the home to make our lives more convenient and entertaining.

This project also provides a platform for understanding and experimeting with the integration of mechanical, electrical and software systems. Exploring robotics is a wonderful way for future Engineers to gain the skills and hands on experience to become great Engineers.

Step 1: System Diagram

Let's get to the point. Here's what the personal home robot can do so far:

- retrieve water
- water plants
- fill a dog water bowl
- control a VCR and TV
- turn lights and other appliances on/off
- play music
- dance and entertain
- provide mobile video security for the home
- remind the elderly to take medicine

and much more in the works!

Step 2: Robot Front

Pictures are worth a thousand words. There are just too many components in this design that could create an Instructable with a 100 steps. I'll focus on pointing out the parts that are most interesting.

The front of the robot has 2 USB speakers and a centered docking station for a wireless PDA. These items were mounted using bent metal brackets, screws and velcro. The front head of the robot has a USB camera and infrared sensors for TV/VCR control.

A lot of attention was paid to the robot aesthetics. There are too many times where we've all seen a robot that looked like a pile of circuits and wires. It's important that someone can imagine that a robot "fits" with the other items in the home.

Step 3: Robot Left

The left side of the robot consist mainly of the arm with 2 degrees of freedom. The arm is built using a quarter scale RC model servo for the shoulder joint and a standard RC servo for the elbow joint. The arm is constructed out of thin light weight aluminum. The forearm is made from a thinner gauge aluminum but was strengthen using 90 degree bends. The water hose and servo wiring are mounted along the arm using clips commonly utilized for mounting cable TV coax cable.

Step 4: Robot Back

The back side of the robot consists of the cargo bay, bumper and X10 wireless controller.

The cargo bay holds the 12V reversible water pump, 4 AA batteries for servo power, and the 12V lead acid battery.

The orignal backside bumper on the Create was relocated to the second level deck for easy access to the cargo bay. Without this bumper on the cargo bay area the weight on the 4th wheel would flex the plastic housing. An aluminum sheet was attached to the floor of the cargo bay for extra reinforcements.

The reversible water pump in the cargo bay is adapted from the RC model industry. These pumps are commonly used to fill and extract fuel from the tanks of model airplanes.

Step 5: Robot Right

The right side of the robot consist mainly of the USB telescoping camera mast used during teleoperation. The camera can be adjusted for different scenarios. If one wants to monitor a person at eye level then the telescope can be fully extended for this scenario. This type of adaptable hardware is a very useful feature for the many different physical environments and applications found in a home.

The mast was actually part of an off the shelf adjustable tripod stand. One leg was removed from the tripod and then mounted upside down with a camera fixed to the top. Typically, routing of the USB camera wiring becomes an issue when the mast is adjusted for different lengths. However, in this case a commonly available retracted USB cord was used in conjunction with the telescoping mast to automically adjust the cable length with the telecope position.

The water pump reservoir and Create serial interface adapter are also located on this side.

Step 6: Robot Guts

These are the items in the 2nd level deck that are accesible from the rear of the robot.

Stored in this location are the switching power supply, computer hard drive and rail mounted interface boards. The interface boards consist of an IR TV/VCR remote control board, a PIC16F877 controller board, a heatsinked IC motor controller and an 8 channel servo controller.

Step 7: Robot Head

These are items located on the top deck under the white plastic dome.

There is a mini-itx motherboard mounted to the top deck. For a wireless link an 802.11G wireless bridge was mounted above the motherboard with the antenna poking through the plastic dome.

The plastic dome is actualy a plastic bowl purchased at K Mart. It serves to protect the electronics while also providing a key aesthetic feature.

The IR transmit and receive sensors are also mounted to this dome.

Step 8: And Now the VIDEOS! - Robot Dance

robot dancing

The robot dancing to streaming music

Step 9: Video - Filling Reservoir

Filling water reservoir

Step 10: Video - Filling Dog Water Bowl

Step 11: Video - Teleoperation

Step 12: Video - Raise / Lower Teleop Camera Mast

Step 13: Video - Image Processing

Step 14: Video - Tv Control

Step 15: Video - Water Plants

Step 16: Video - Take Medicine