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Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Iphone Apps for Robot Control

Sept 20, 2011

We have seen thousands of iPhone applications and can expect to see more as Apple marches closer to its fall release of the iPhone5. There are multiple apps available for iPhone, iPad, or iPod to remote-control gadgets such as your computer, DVR, digital camera, or even your car. Have you imagined controlling a robot in a manufacturing plant using an iPhone?

Dr. Vikram Kapila, professor of mechanical engineering at the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department, Polytechnic Institute of New York University, and his students are developing apps that allow you to control robots with just a tap or flick of a finger.

Currently in the usability testing stage, the iLabArm and iLabBot are part of one of their projects started over two years ago to monitor, command, and control a variety of laboratory testbeds using iPod, iPhone, and iPad over an ad hoc Wi-Fi network. "Our goal was to take advantage of an iPhone's or iPod's touchscreen to create an intuitive interface for interacting with physical devices such as robotic manipulators, mobile robots, and also our own control lab experiments," says Dr. Kapila.

The iLabArm not only uses the touch feature of the iPhone but also embeds sensors—the accelerometer and gyroscope—to move the robotic arm. As the hand is tilted forward and backward, the iPhone's accelerometer data is used to command the wrist-joint to tilt forward and backward, respectively (see videos). The iLabBot can control a mobile robot (Qbot, based on iRobot's create platform). As the user touches a specific area on the iPod screen, the Qbot in the real world is commanded to the corresponding location.
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