Blog

Telepresence Robot

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

 

This is Telegance. He is a Telepresence Robot, which means he’s a driver-controlled mobile video conferencing system.

Imagine I’m out in the world. I can use my laptop or any other computer to link into the robot through the Internet. The people around the robot see my face on the robot’s screen. The sound of my voice comes through the speakers, which are mounted just below the screen. I hear through the robot’s microphone and I see through the robot’s camera, which is mounted on two little servos, so I can tilt and pan the camera where I wish to look. I can drive the robot around the house, to the kitchen or the bedroom or where ever, using the robot’s built in motors. His wheels are designed to drive or turn on carpet, tile, and hardwood floors.

Side View

Side View of Base

 

How We Built Him

Telegance was a lot of fun to build, but he was definitely one of our most challenging robots so far. We learned a lot. Telegance is our first robot that is based on a computer rather than a microcontroller chip/board. Our vision was to build a robot based on a Mac. So, we grabbed a Mac Mini, tore it apart, ripped everything off that we didn’t need, rewired it for DC (it was an AC computer), and replaced the conventional hard drive with a Solid State Drive (SSD) (so that we didn’t need a fan, it didn’t make any noise, and it used less power). We installed just the stripped down motherboard into the base of the robot. When it booted up it was silent, fast, and ran on 12 volts like the rest of the robot. We then connected this to an Arduino Mega microcontroller through a USB cable. The Mac Mini, which runs a special Skype plugin, handles the webcam videoconferencing (using Skype), the touch screen, and 802.11b networking. The Arduino handles the drive motors, the webcam pan-tilt servos, power distribution, and other robotic features. We constructed the robot’s frame in our workshop using raw aluminum plate and c-channel. We especially like the cool wheels on this robot.

Touchscreen, Webcam on Tilt-Pan Servos, and Speaker: Telegance Robot

 

 

Under the Hood: Mac Mini motherboard (left), Arduino Mega Microcontoller (right), Sabertooth Motor Controller, Xbee Radio

 

 

 

Comments (3)

  1. Sim
    September 22nd, 2011

    This is so cool; is there any way i could get/build one. Maybe you could some instructions on how to build it from the ground up. Again great job!

  2. ren
    January 23rd, 2012

    this is awesome I’d love to see your arduino code

  3. martin
    April 25th, 2012

    i could well be interested in few of these and funding a upgrade in looks etc

    is this a one off or are you making more of them

Leave a Comment

Human Test (captcha): * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.