Startup has a way to put brains in DIY robots

Jan 15, 2014 by Nancy Owano weblog

(Phys.org) —Want to build a robot? Good. Want to add intelligence? Great. Two robotics innovators want to give makers an easy way to bestow brains on their robots. Meet Rex, a robot controller board, which is now in focus as a Kickstarter campaign. Rex is formally described as a palm sized, single-board computer for robots. It provides control over microcontrollers, sensors, and motor drivers, in a robot that the user has created, whether from a 3D printer or constructed out of metal, nuts and bolts. Rex, said its creators, streamlines the process of implementing intelligence into robotic projects.

John Biggs in TechCrunch called it a cross between a Raspberry Pi and an Arduino. While more expensive than a Raspberry Pi, it carries numerous features for the robot-builder: The experience of building a robot is "less of a pain" said the team, without "hassles for wiring," Also easing the way are the built-in battery inputs, and the ability to boot up directly into a robot programming environment.

The two creators behind Rex are former Carnegie Mellon Master's students and software and mechanical engineers, Mike Lewis and Kartik Tiwarti, They met when studying robotics at Carnegie Mellon last year. They talked about an idea for a low-cost development package for robots. Lewis said, "As we continued to think about it, Rex seemed to make more and more sense for people who had already built Arduino-based robots but were having a difficult time stepping up to a more advanced platform."

The two formed a company, Alphalem in March last year to get things going. San Mateo, California-based Alphalem is described as a robotics and company. Their first prototype for what would become Rex was delivered in October. They launched their Kickstarter campaign earlier this month, on January 2.

They are looking for $90,000 in pledges. That figure comes after they received quotes from manufacturing houses for medium to high volume production. "Our funding goal is a reflection of these costs," they said.

Seeking pledges, they posted the basic model as starting at $99, for a fully featured board (includes DSP and camera and microphone inputs, with the OS preloaded). Their OS is Alphalem OS, a Linux distribution, they said, built specifically for robots developed around Rex.

At its core, they added, is the Alphalem Development Environment (ADE) which consists of scripts, sample programs written in C++, an API for communicating with devices connected to Rex over its I2C Expansion Ports, and a process management system for running multiple control programs (Tasks) in parallel. Alphalem OS also includes built-in drivers for a set of devices that Alphalem's team chose as the most useful for robots.

Targeted shipping dates are May and June. At the time of this writing, they had 231 backers with $27,871 pledged of their $90,000 goal.

Explore further: Robots learn from each other on 'Wiki for robots'

More information: www.kickstarter.com/projects/a… the-brain-for-robots

Related Stories

RAPIRO wants to spread joy of robots with Raspberry Pi

Jun 25, 2013

(Phys.org) —The Raspberry Pi is a computing milestone as a very low-priced computing device running Linux; now a Japanese inventor wants to rev up another kind of breakthrough, with an affordable robot ...

Robots learn from each other on 'Wiki for robots'

Jan 13, 2014

Now it's not just people – robots are also connected by internet thanks to RoboEarth. Next week, after four years of research, scientists at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), Philips and four other ...

Willow Garage spinoff debuts robot ripe for picking

Oct 22, 2013

(Phys.org) —A mobile robot a little over three feet with one arm that can move around the building and watch where it's going made its debut on Sunday with capabilities and a pricetag that could eventually ...

Linkbot learners can build robots on all levels

May 29, 2013

(Phys.org) —A Kickstarter project offers an interesting value proposition. A Linkbot robot platform helps robot hopefuls learn as they go. This is a modular platform where robot learners can keep it simple ...

Atlas teams head for DARPA Robotics Challenge

Nov 26, 2013

(Phys.org) —December 20 is a big day for teams competing in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Robotics Challenge. The idea is to promote critical improvements in what robots can do to ...

Recommended for you

US seeks China's help after cyberattack

1 hour ago

The United States is asking China for help as it weighs potential responses to a cyberattack against Sony Pictures Entertainment that the U.S. has blamed on North Korea.

Why the Sony hack isn't big news in Japan

17 hours ago

Japan's biggest newspaper, Yomiuri Shimbun, featured a story about Sony Corp. on its website Friday. It wasn't about hacking. It was about the company's struggling tablet business.

Off-world manufacturing is a go with space printer

21 hours ago

On Friday, the BBC reported on a NASA email exchange with a space station which involved astronauts on the International Space Station using their 3-D printer to make a wrench from instructions sent up in ...

Cadillac CT6 will get streaming video mirror

22 hours ago

Cadillac said Thursday it will add high resolution streaming video to the function of a rearview mirror, so that the driver's vision and safety can be enhanced. The technology will debut on the 2016 Cadillac ...

Sony faces 4th ex-employee lawsuit over hack

22 hours ago

A former director of technology for Sony Pictures Entertainment has sued the company over the data breach that resulted in the online posting of his private financial and personal information.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.