In a continuing effort to create unique and unusual robots I just completed RoboStool – a robotic foot stool. Where would such an idea as a robot foot stool come from? I’m not really sure but one day while waiting for my wife to finish shopping in a Bed Bath and Beyond (and totally bored of course) I spied the ultimate in tacky furniture - a cubed shaped foot stool covered in the finest of brown vinyl. At that moment it occurred to me that this foot stool was just begging to be automated. And thus began the RoboStool project.
RoboStool has three missions (modes if you like). The simplest is remote control using my universal remote terminal (called a Robox). Using a pair of 912 Mhz transceivers the terminal sends commands to drive the robot forward, left, right, etc. A Ping measures distance in front to prevent the robot from crashing into walls. The second mode uses my beacon navigation system (uses IR and not GPS) to guide the robot from point A to point B. This is the same system I’ve used in my Huey robot. The last is a “follow-me” mode that uses thermal sensing to track and follow a human target. This is the same technology that I used for my Follow-Me Rover and Huey robots.
As with all my current robot projects I’m using the Parallax Propeller chip on a Proto Board. For the drive I’m using the new Parallax Motor Mount Kit and two HB-25 motor controllers. A third HB-25 is used to control the two ServoCity linear actuators which are used to raise and lower the body and lid.
You can watch a short demo video of RoboStool in action below. The first video is RoboStool using preprogrammed path and beacon navigation and the second is "Follow Me" mode. You can see how the robot uses the lower IR sensors to avoid objects like chairs and walls while following its human master.
If you want to build your own the Propeller Spin source code and schematics are available on the right.
If you want more practical robot you should take a look at RoboCam a telepresence robot which can be used for security and elder care.