CONCURRENT SESSION 3A
Thursday 7 September 2017
Time: 1.30pm - 3.00pm
Manukau Institute of Technology
Lighting the way to Mobile Phones as Robot Brains
Mobile Phones have amazing computer power. Let's use phones as Robot brains! But phones do not have arms, legs wheels, wings and other interesting ways of doing robot movement. Published solutions are complex and expensive involving a microprocessor eg Arduino or Raspberry Pi acting as an intermediary "spinal cord". Proposed here is a simple solution taking a mostly analogue approach: programming light patches of varying brightness to appear on the screen. These line up with light dependent resistors which need relatively simple power amplifying circuitry to interface with electric motors etc. The method is self-evident with its operations clearly on display rather than running as coded mysteries in black boxes. Maybe there is potential here to help with engaging high school students with technology. We are also open to gaining new insights by seeing robotics from another angle by taking an unconventional approach.
This experimentation is purpose-driven. Every robot needs a purpose beyond "can wave arm", "can move east then north". Why is it moving there? What productive purpose is there in that? Therefore even our simplest robots are stepping towards ambitious goals. eg Pest control robot for hunting rats in Conservation areas, Animal-like robot as circus performer, Mobile Phone as model rocket flight guidance, recording and telemetry.
The Wikipedia article "SnakeBot" states somewhat intriguingly:
"…snakebots can be used by animal control officers to subdue rabid or invasive creatures. Raccoons, barn cats, and large rodents typically respond to the snakebot's presence with attacks upon which the snakebot will emit an electrical shock and paralyze the aggressor."
Imagine these in action on the Milford Track! Would they frighten the tourists? Could they entertain the tourists? Come to this presentation to see small but intriguing steps in exploring these questions.
John Calder came to the Manukau Institute of Technology from software development, especially modernising legacy systems, and migrating and rescuing data from old database systems. Since 2000 John has been an enthusiast for web applications as the go to business software development platform and he has enjoyed watching this idea catch on with others. John also teaches Multimedia which leads to making movies as Creative Outputs. John's most recent interest is Robotics taking an approach of using Internet-based resources to raise the capabilities of relatively simple devices.