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1  General Category / General Discussion / A Programmer's First Arduino on: February 02, 2011, 05:52:10 pm
Hey guys, nice to meetcha! I'm a .NET programmer by day, but I've always wanted to get into robotics. I just ordered the Uno, and I'm excited about getting started. I want to make a challenge out of going as cheap as possible and using tools and materials I already have. I've got some basic PC repair tools, soldering iron, and random electronic bits lying around. I've also got an HP Mini 1000 netbook that I've been struggling to find a use for, and an extra HTC Nexus One to toss into the mix. At this point, I've done a lot more thinking about "Wow, wouldn't it be cool if it could do XYZ?" than researching into what is possible and what isn't. Some of these goals will be very challenging to say the least, especially for a software guy with no robotics experience, but this should be a long-term project (and quite educational) so why not shoot for the moon? Here's a list of goals and sub-goals just off the top of my head.

Goal 1: Create an autonomous, indoor roverbot to be used as a platform for other experiments in machine learning, human interaction, data collection, etc. Sub-goals include:
  • Safely navigate an indoor environment. (Not necessarily perform SLAM)
  • Self-charge. (I'm not starting with an iRobot Create because I'd like a more scalable platform. Plus, self-charge is a challenge.)

Goal 2: Add capability to perform data collection and store feedback from its environment by remote control over the web, including things like:
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Trigger by motion or noise
  • Temperature

Goal 3: Add capability to manipulate objects in the environment via arm or gripper.
  • Determine the weight of an object in its grip.
  • Attempt to pick up an object and take pictures of it from several angles.

Goal 4: This is the pie-in-the-sky goal. I'd like to bring all the functionality together and allow the robot to rove around its environment and collect data about "objects of interest". It would compare the attributes of an unknown object against stored attributes of known objects in its database, and store the new object as similar if so. Generally, having the robot say "Hey what's that thing?" and then carrying out its own process for identifying it. As I understand it, this is the "correspondence problem" in robotics and has not yet been elegantly solved.

I've got a few more goals, but these should keep me busy for the rest of my life so I'll cover them later. Using the MS Kinect to perform SLAM would be awesome. I've found a few great resources for parts and info, but if you guys have any tips or general guidance for my project it would be much appreciated. There is still much to learn about the Force, and I am but a young padawan.

-E
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