Friday, December 23, 2011

Navigating Apartments with ROS

While Maxwell tends to reside at the office most days, I've recently brought him home a few times. I'm now working towards some cool demos of mobile manipulation in a home environment, but the first step is of course to navigate that environment.

I've been trying for some time to use only the ASUS on the head, however, the thick carpeting and carpet/linoleum transitions really throw of my odometry at times. I finally dropped back and just used my low-cost Hokuyo. This evening I created a new map, without much effort at all, using gmapping and the Hokuyo:

Some preliminary tests show that my planner parameters will probably work well, even in the smaller environment (the map above is 10m x 10m). What is very apparent is that my laser doesn't pick up much of my furniture -- the larger room is actually mostly full with tables at various heights, which are only showing up as stray points to the laser. Adding the ASUS for 3D obstacle avoidance should help quite a bit.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Maxwell (Finally) Gets a Vertical Arm Lift

I've been saying for quite some time that I wanted to add a vertical lift to Maxwell. Earlier this month, he finally got that lift:

The linear actuator gives the arm 20" of additional vertical mobility, making it possible to grab objects at floor or table height, or hit most light switches. The lift is currently integrated into ROS arm_navigation, I'll have some awesome videos soon.

In addition to the arm upgrades, Maxwell recently got a new ASUS Xtion Pro Live to replace his Kinect. The ASUS device requires only USB (no 12V power) and is significantly less heavy, reducing neck and back stress (a common problem amongst aging robots). Speaking of aging robots, Maxwell turns one early next month.


Update Palooza

This blog went a bit quieter earlier this year. That is about to change.

First up, is a series of awesome pictures of a new 3d-printed gripper for Maxwell. One of the cool tools that I have access to these days is a Project HD3000 printer. Here's the grippers straight off the printer:
After removing the wax:
One side installed:
And a grasp: