Kinect connected to Roomba cousin
MIT student links Microsoft's motion-sensing camera to iRobot, uses it for 3D mapping, gesture command.
Having already been unlocked by software enthusiasts, the Kinect camera is now finding even more uses outside of gaming. Tech blog Singularity Hub reports that Philipp Robbel, a student at MIT's Personal Robotics Group, managed to connect Microsoft's motion-sensing camera to an iRobot Create, a small robot used by educational systems. The circular device resembles its more familiar cousin, the Roomba robotic vacuum found in many homes.
Using open-source simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) code on a wirelessly connected PC, Robbel managed to connect the Kinect's 3D camera to have it make a 3D map of the surrounding area. He also managed to get the robot to recognize the human form and even follow command gestures. In a demonstration video (see below), he directs the iRobot with a wave of his arm.
Robbel's Ph.D. dissertation at MIT is to create a team of robots, which could find missing or trapped people after a disaster. Though the iRobot would not be ideal for uneven terrain, he believes the 3D mapping could provide a map for a group of small quadrotor flying robots to investigate, and that the gesture recognition would allow one trapped person to direct the robot to another.
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