Campaign is over, but you can
So you want to build a robot?
What is Ro-buddy?
A delightfully simple way to build robots (and many other things) and control them using your Android powered smartphone or tablet.
Ro-buddy is a tightly integrated ecosystem for building robots and other gadgets. You can build your own spy-bots, telepresence robots and almost anything that uses motors, sensors, lights and even webcams (through an optional Raspberry Pi).
Then, use an ANDROID smartphone or a tablet to control and monitor the gadgets you've built.
What's even better , design the user interface yourself.
ALL THIS WITHOUT WRITING A SINGLE LINE OF CODE!
Great way to do your next school science project or bring back to life that old RC car of yours powered by Android (and more...)
What's in the Package?
- Ro-buddy Microcontroller Board
- USB connector cable for your Android Device
- I2C cable for connecting an optional Raspberry Pi
- 6xAA battery holder
- Ro-buddy Android App
- Ro-buddy API for Raspberry PI
What's the Ro-buddy Microcontroller Board? (Ro-buddy Board)
It's an AVR Xmega 128 based board (similar in size to the Raspberry Pi - 8.5cm x 5.5cm) with following added features;
- Four (4) motor drivers (6~9v/1A channel)
- Audio Power Amplifier (Useful if connecting Raspberry Pi Audio)
- Built in Intelligent Battery Charger/Monitor circuit (So you could build self contained 'things' without messy power solutions)
- Separate 5V supply specifically for powering a Raspberry Pi (making it easy to build fully integrated systems with a Raspberry Pi in the loop)
- 10+ GPIO pins (configurable I/O, PWM)
- 10+ Analogue to Digital pins
- I2C port (this is how you connect to an optional Raspberry Pi - leaving the 2 USB ports on the Pi free for other uses)
- USB port (this is how you connect to your Android device, both for programming the interface and for direct controlling)
Simply connect your motors, sensors, LED's (and an optional Raspberry Pi for video streaming, wireless capabilities and advanced functionality)
How does the App work?
Ro-buddy App allows you to directly control the Ro-buddy Microcontroller board's I/O pins, A/D pins, motor drivers and monitor the status of the board. The same app also allows you to create your own unique controller interfaces using built in buttons, widgets and other control/sensor elements including a video streaming widget - just drag & drop.
- You Simply connect the Ro-buddy board to your Android device through the supplied USB cable.
- Interactively build your App interface using the Interface designer
- Download your interface to the Ro-buddy board
- Start controlling your Masterpiece
Ro-buddy App (Mock-up of the Controller - subject to change with progress)
Ro-buddy Interface Designer (Mock-up of the Designer - subject to change with progress)
Ro-buddy for advanced user
The underlying software framework was developed much earlier as part of an Australian government funded research project. This work is now freely available as Open Source Software. The original framework was written in C++ for Windows/Linux systems. Part of your support goes to re-writing the entire framework to suit the Android platform and the Ro-buddy microcontroller board. We have used the original framework in many of our research work and interactive art installations (winning a finalist position in Engineering Excellence Awards along the way).
Ro-buddy allows for many-to-many device connections, so advanced users could make use of Ro-buddy to quickly build networks of connected devices. You could build complex connected systems but with the same simplicity of Ro-buddy, connect, install and control. The video below shows some highlights of our previous research/art projects - see if you could figure out how we've used the Ro-buddy framework.
Raspberry Pi in the loop
Now for that dust gathering Raspberry Pi...
Blow off the dust and connect it to the Ro-buddy microcontroller board through the supplied I2C cable. Power up the Raspberry Pi using the built-in 5v supply from Ro-buddy. Optionally, connect a speaker to the audio power amplifier on the board and connect to the Pi's audio out. You can now send commands to the Ro-buddy microcontroller board and receive information back from the Android device through WiFi. Connect a webcam to the Raspberry Pi and you can have streaming video right inside the Ro-buddy App robot controller interface (Instant Spybot).
But that's just out of the box. If you're excited about programming - dive right in - we'll provide you with an API to connect to the Ro-buddy framework and you can do some cool programming of yours using either Python or Scratch right inside Raspberry Pi. This is where Ro-buddy really starts to shine. Now you have the power to build cool internet of things and connect each of your new creations and control them using your Android smart phone/tablet. Not only that you could connect multiple android devices and Ro-buddy boards together to create complex sensor networks and other artefacts and monitor/control them using a master Android device!
Inspiration behind Ro-buddy
It all began when bunch of us did volunteering work to teach robotics to 10 year olds at a local public school. Below are some of the cool designs they came up with - and they set us a challenge to make it easy for them to control their creations using smartphones!
The answer was Ro-buddy...
Where we're are now
Ro-buddy microcontroller board
We've been working on the Ro-buddy microcontroller for the past year (we've gone through two major iterations - the image you see is of the 2nd generation) We're currently working on a third version of the board which will be much better than the one pictured (hence the one currently sown is for illustration purposes only).
Ro-buddy App, API and the software framework
As mentioned earlier, the original research has been done long ago (over 5 years now) and has been tested in many public and research scenarios. Currently we have ported the core of the framework into Android and we've tested the built in interfaces for a robot and a robot arm. We're currently working on the Interface Designer portion of the App.
Feedback from makers
We have road tested the current version of the board and App on several occasions including at the Sydney's first ever mini Maker Faire. We have already received great feedback and will be taking this information on-board in delivering the final product to our backers.
Ro-buddy is both hardware and software - it is a fun and easy way to build robots and many other things using your Android device. There are number of great micro-controller boards out there (Arduino for example), but they all require programming skills in order to become useful. We've seen number of occasions where people have brought these devices in the hope of building something but never succeeded, simply because of this initial hurdle. Ro-buddy helps to get over this by providing a self-contained ecosystem with many out-of-the-box possibilities.
- The drag & drop interface creator allows straight-forward generation of control apps for the Ro-buddy micro-controller enabling non-programmers to easily build their own unique robots and devices.
- If desired, the interface can be embedded in the Ro-buddy microcontroller board. Thus, the creator could gift his device and the new owner could connect to it and control it by uploading the interface from the board.
- Those who do possess programming skills and want to extend their creations beyond the typical controller interfaces, can re-program the control logic of the board via Scratch or Python using the Ro-buddy API available for the Raspberry Pi.
- The API and the App provides a simple way to communicate between multiple Android devices and Raspberry Pies making it a great tool independent of the Ro-buddy microcontroller board.
What We Need & What You Get
We need your support to complete the project. Your funds will help us to;
- Finish the app and enable drag & drop interface creation.
Manufacture the final version of the Ro-buddy micro-controller board.
In return, our backers will get (depending on the selected perk);
- Early access to the Ro-buddy API
- Ro-buddy Controller App with drag & drop interface creator
- Ro-buddy Microcontroller board
Shipping is free to Australia and USA - rest of the world please add $15 ($25 for the 10 pack).
We're ROBOLOGICAL - a team of three misfits, including a roboticist (a PhD in robotics), a cognitive scientist (a PhD in Linguistics) and a software engineer (has worked in some interesting places). We've worked on some very interesting robotic projects over the years including working with one of the most celebrated performance artists in the world (hint: Stelarc). Some of our work has captured the imagination of both young and the old (http://goo.gl/KTGgY). This is just the beginning of our journey into bringing fun and cool robots and things to you our backers and fans of technology.
The team also calls on some great mentors including Prof. Chris Drane at the University of Technology for his wisdom on technology and startups. Stelarc, one of the pioneering artists in the realm of robotics and art for his wisdom on robotics, aesthetics and the arts.