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Showing posts from August, 2017

Achoo! Crash-choo! Episode I

When someone is about to sneeze in your face, you try and stop them.  And, when a robot is about to crash into your sleeping cat, Tammy, you encourage stop them.

We built something that roams around exactly how you tell it to.  But did you notice something?  If you asked it to do something stupid (sorry, Tammy), it did it without asking.  That doesn't sound very much like human behaviour to us (or does it?)  We want Rosie to be more careful, and to not listen to us all of the time.  After all, robots should surely be cleverer than us humans, right?  Help us make the right decisions, more often than not.

There are many possible ways to prevent a collision with poor old Tammy (the guinea cat).  If it does what it says on the tin, a 'distance sensor' sounds like a good place to start.  Because if you are getting closer to something - generally speaking - you should slow down, or stop.

So let's find Rosie (and Tammy!) a crash helmet, knee-pads and take out some special ro…

Don’t reinvent the eel

Robots that don’t move around by themselves aren’t much fun.  Because you’d have to tie them to the back of a pterodactyl to fly them around.  Or attach them to the tail of a unicorn to make them hunt for pots of gold.

But don’t worry.  Humans have invented the wheel.  So let’s not reinvent it.

We’ll simply attach the wheels to Rosie’s plastic body and send instructions to the motor controller board that controls their motors using the Raspberry Pi.  Bit like how brains send signals to our legs through our nerves.

But let’s not get too scientific.  We just want to make some plastic boxes move around the floor to scare the cat - and the grandparents.  Or preferably both.  Now how hard could that be?
You will need to have these:Raspberry Pi 3, and Raspbian running on SDHC cardA computer from which you are connecting to the Raspberry Pi remotely A robot / rover kit (which includes at a minimum: motors, motor controller board, wheels and some form of additional power supply, like a…

Hurrah-ndom inventions

Like humans, robots need to be intelligent.  Rational.  Trustworthy.

But that sounds way too complicated, and more importantly, extremely boring.  So let’s make them do random stuff instead, and learn a bit about programming on the Pi along the way.

Here, we’ll write a little Python program to allow Rosie to make random suggestions.  Specifically, we want her to tell us what we should be inventing next.
You will need to have these:Raspberry Pi 3, and Raspbian running on SDHC cardA computer from which you are connecting to the Raspberry Pi remotely  You will need to have done these things:I’ve got Pi(3) brainWhy-Fi-ght the Wi-Fi? You will need to do this:Create a Python application and use the random modulePopulate your lists with words (be creative!)Run the application and (possibly) be amused by the results What do you get after all this? We learnt previously that Operating Systems - in our case the Linux-based Raspbian OS - allow us to interact with hardware.  But the OS alone won…

Why-Fi-ght the Wi-Fi?

A robot which is permanently hooked up to a monitor, keyboard, mouse and mains power, is not very cool.  In fact, it will look plain silly.  You'd have to chase it around the house to type stuff in, and the power cable to the mains socket would have to be over 784 meters long*.

*Figure grossly exaggerated for dramatic effect.

That's why remote control is the future.  No, put down that TV remote you use to watch Lego Movie for the hundredth time.  We are going to battery power Rosie's brain, and log into it remotely from another computer - over Wi-Fi.  And as you have already learnt here, the insides of Rosie's brain do not look like how you were expecting (a wondrous kingdom of castles, dragons, unicorns and sweet shops are no where to be found).
You will need to have these:Computer (we are using a Windows 10 laptop).  Steps will be identical for Macs, except you can skip the use of Putty and simply launch ''.Raspberry Pi 3 running Raspbian…

We’ve discovered a plan-ette

All good projects have a plan.  And that’s why we don’t yet have one for Rosie.

Except it’s not quite true. My amazing little sidekick, Chloe, has completed this schematic. It’s what NASA scientists can only dream of.  It’s what all intelligent beings will resemble in the year 2199.

Better still, it looks like it could simply be built using two plastic boxes purchased from the local discount store.  Oh yes, plus wheels… and eyelashes.

So mark our words.  Colonising Mars with us, will be boxes on wheels.  And these boxes will unmistakably be red (with flowers and hearts and stuff).

I’ve got Pi(3) brain

Do robots think?  Do they have emotions?  …Do they prefer broccoli or asparagus?

Time to find out; and let’s start by giving Rosie a brain.  A (Raspberry) Pi brain.

Brains need to make sense of all the information that it receives, and do something useful with it.  It also needs to be able to memorise useless stuff, like Christmas cracker jokes to keep humans amused.

As we aren’t yet able to buy actual human brains from Amazon, we have decided to purchase a Raspberry Pi 3 instead.  It has a quad-core ARM processor to do the processing.   It has 1GB of RAM and an optional SDHC card to do the memorising (I think as I can’t quite remember).  And it has seven million other letters worth of acronyms to do what robot brains should do.   Observe the world.  Be smart (sometimes).  But most importantly, impress humans with silly robot dancing.
You will need to have these:
Computer (we are using a Windows 10 laptop).  Apples are fine too (of the computer variety, not the fruit), you will …