Friday, February 19, 2010

Could Serge Be Your Grand Domestic Robot?

If you are into robotics (as I hope you are, you reading this aren't you?) and enjoy science fiction then surely you have been catching the series called "Caprica". Caprica is a spin off from the successful Battlestar Gallactica series remake. In the Caprica series a domestic robot by the name of Serge works at a home for a human family (Graystone). Serge seems to have been inspired by the Ballbot which is able to balance itself on a single spherical wheel while traveling about but what makes Serge interesting is the effortless ability to interact with humans and their home while providing a soothing human language response to commands. Serge practically is the brain of the home and it is able to freely move within it with a level of artificial intelligence that makes it seem sentient.

I have always had the idea to create something like Serge today. Many technological aspects already exist today. Here are some basic "ingredients" to create Serge in 2010:

As you can see, the basics are there and it is just a matter of time for someone to start rolling out Serge. Would you have a need for one? As computer are being integrated more and more into other systems (phones, cars, televisions, homes, etc.) it is just a matter of time to have them integrated into domestic robots in the likes of Serge.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Your Home Can Be Your Next Domestic Robot

In my last article, I mentioned another home control system. Nikolai and I went to take road trip, to a small South Florida firm, whose main business is co-location and network consulting. However the owner Rick Medina, was tasked to build a home control system that could control every aspect of a home.

The system controls everything you could want like outlets, lights, temperature and many other items. The kitchen oven can be totally controlled.

If a wireless router is not communicating, the system senses it and re-initiates it. The system has an array of cameras so that the home can be viewed from any room and even from a remote location. When the mailman delivers the mail a sensor in the mail box detects it and sends the owner an email that the mail was delivered.

This system is not just home automation its life automation. It has a customizable interface written in flash. The main menu gets you to places you need to access quickly.

When you choose the home option you will get a floor plan and a status of all the automated devices on the screen in real time. Doors that are open and closed, room temperatures, multiple alarm status are all displayed. You can control all of your domestic floor cleaning robots and even feed your pets! Click on an object turn it off on, etc. Simple.

Well the issue is as simple as it looks, the guy off the street can't duplicate this. I should say he can't duplicate this easily.

Programming is required, a knowledge of electronics is required, both digital and analog. For example you can't go out and get an x10 outlet and power every device with it. Some devices that have motors require special outlets.

The next issue, is that suppose that your neighbor down street gets the home automation bug, and now all of the sudden your lights all go on at 3 AM, what to do? Rick has solved all these issues and that’s why his system is custom built and custom installed. However you cant go wrong by having a professional do it, and Rick is definitely is a pro.

Post Inspired by fellow human friend: Bill R.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Domestic Robots That Inspire Innovation

Wow! Definitely this short inspirational video is a must see for all domestic robot fans, researchers, engineers and/or hobbyists! The video covers many familiar topics that have been reviewed here at DomesRO. The short video was created by Honda for a documentary series called "Dream The Impossible". Honda definitely does not only dream the impossible but it does also create great domestic robotics like the humanoid robot Asimo. Asimo proves that humanoid robots are needed for many purposes but one of them is the creation of a better relationship between us and our human friends. There is also talk about having Asimo be fully autonomous by giving it artificial intelligence! Let me know your opinion and see if you can point out the multiple topics that I have covered at DomesRO. Enjoy!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Dyson Stopped Innovation With The DC06 Robot

Mr. Dyson why did you stop your ingenious innovations with the Dyson DC06? Do not take it the wrong way, I do have much respect for your ideas for the home cleaning market which includes the much awaited DC06 a.k.a. "The Roomba Killer". Your bag-less upright and hand held vacs are great but you are trying to integrate what worked on uprights into a smaller and "smarter" package which at in real life will be just a failure.

I agree with fully automated and bag-less design but the Dyson DC06 is too tall, too expensive, too heavy and probably would not have enough power to run for over 30 minutes. Mr. Dyson, you acknowledge many of these issues but one, you need to make it smaller! Take a look at the iRobot Roomba, they got that part right! The Roomba is able to fit under the majority of home furniture and clean up those dust bunny breeding grounds for you. Mr. Dyson, you looked and studied what was wrong with the "old" upright vacuum design and made something much better out of it why not do the same with the floor cleaning robot?! Look at what iRobot does good and improve it! Re-think outside your Dyson vac box. We need more competition and your ideas of making "smart" domestic floor cleaning robots that is able to clean floors much more efficiently could be the ticket to kicking some of these "other" robot companies in the butt.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Tip of The Month: Don't Move That Charging Base!

For those of you that own an iRobot Roomba floor cleaning robot AND have hard floors (tile, laminate, wood, marble, etc.) know that sooner or later the grip on the underside of the charging base will no longer be able to grip the floor correctly.

This is caused by dust getting into the bottom plate and on the rubber "boots" every time your dirty robot comes back to charge its batteries after a tough day cleaning your floors. After a couple of cleaning sessions the base will be easily dragged away, like a mad dog with his bone, by your Roomba on its next cleaning session. This issue will cause problems when it comes back to re-charge by wasting precious battery time by trying to dock on a moving base. You can easily clean it with a damp cleaning cloth but you will have to do this often and it can make you start thinking as to why you purchased this robot!

This problem can be easily be solved by:

  1. Purchasing a roll of non-slip liner material. You can find it and purchase it at your local store and/or super market for cheap.
  2. Take your charge base and place it on top of a square piece of the non-slip liner
  3. Trace an outline of the base on the non-slip liner material
  4. Remove the charging base
  5. Cut the non-slip liner along the outline that you drew previously
  6. Place the brand new non-slip liner at the bottom of your charge base
  7. Enjoy looking at your robot having a difficult time to move that base from its spot!

As you see, I personally allowed for an extra frontal lip area so the front wheel of the Roomba can get a nice grip towards the base and be less likely to miss it when it has to re-charge. Another note is that sooner or later the non-slip liner will loose its grip for the same reasons but it will take much longer to do so and to solve it just remove the liner cleanse it with water, dry it and put it back! Hope this helps all you Roomba owners enjoy your robot worker much more for years to come. Could this help other floor cleaning robot bases? It should, experiment and let us know at DomesRO, we enjoy reading from our fans!