Researchers Develop an App Which Turns Smartphone into Robot to Perform Tedious JobsSci-Tech

June 19, 2019 15:58
Researchers Develop an App Which Turns Smartphone into Robot to Perform Tedious Jobs

The researchers at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, including an Indian origin developed a smartphone application that allows a user to easily program any robot to perform an everyday activity, such as picking up parts from one area and delivering them to some other.

The appcould dramatically bring down the costs of building and programming mobile robots.

The setup could also take care of household chores, they said.

"Smaller companies can't afford software programmers or expensive mobile robots," said Karthik Ramani, from Purdue University.

"We've made it to where they can do the programming themselves, dramatically bringing down the costs of building and programming mobile robots," he said.

Using augmented reality, the app allows the user to walk out where the robot should go to perform its tasks or draw out a workflow directly into real space.

The app offers options for in what way those tasks can be performed, such as under a certain time limit, on repeat or after a machine has done its job.

Once the programming is done, the user drops the phone into a dock connected to the robot.

While the phone is required to be familiar with the type of robot it is "becoming" to do tasks, the dock can be wirelessly connected to the robot's basic controls and motor.

The phone is both the brain and eyes for the robot, controlling its navigation and tasks.

"As long as the phone is in the docking station, it is the robot. Whatever you move about and do is what the robot will do," Ramani said.

In order to get the robot to execute a task that comprises wirelessly interacting with another machine or object, the user merely scans the QR code of that object or machine while programming, effectively creating a network of alleged"Internet of Things."

Once docked, the phone (as the robot) uses information from the QR code to work with the objects.

The researchers demonstrated this with robots vacuuming, transporting objects, and watering a plant.

The user can as well monitor the robot remotely through the app and make it start or stop a task, such as to go charge its battery or begin a 3D-printing job, researchers said.

The app provides an op record video automatically when the phone is docked so that the user can play it back and evaluate a workflow, they said.

These types of algorithms are as well used in self-driving cars and drones.

Ramani’s lab, since creating the prototype, has been testing it in a real factory setting in order to evaluate user-driven applications.

The application is a move towards creating future "smart" factories, powered by augmented reality and artificial intelligence, that complement and increase worker productivity instead of replacing them, he said.

By Sowmya Sangam

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