Lucas Werthein

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Android Golem

Posted May 20th by lucas in Arduino, Mobile, Physical Computing, Python

Android Golem from Lucas Werthein on Vimeo.

When we first started to work on this project, we were intrigued by the fact that a hand held mobile device would control a robot. We’ve been interested in physical computing and Arduino since the day we arrived at ITP. Therefore, it made sense to develop a project that would create an interaction between an Arduino and a mobile device for our Mobile Media class at ITP.

After a few weeks into the project, we started thinking about what this project meant, why it was useful, and how it could be taken forward and applied in different communities and countries. We realized that we were using features like GPS, LCD screen, internet, data, camera, voice recognition, and voice recorder to control the robot. If we were to build something similar, replicating most of the features of the phone, potential costs could reach into the thousands. However, by using a mobile phone, an open-source robotics platform, and open source software, the robot’s cost came to approximately $200.

Over the years we’ve seen numerous research labs develop solutions to reduce the high cost of electronic components in order that more people can have access to state of the art technology, such as computers, mobile phones, televisions, and much more. Arduino started doing this in the robotics field in 2005 and was successful in democratizing an open-source robotics platform to thousands of people.

We are now trying to this by developing robots with mobile phones. The possibilities of ideas within this field are endless. We have been studying a case that could be successful in saving thousands of lives and would like to take it into further development.

Antipersonnel mines were first used on a wide scale in World War II. Since then they have been used in many conflicts, including in the Vietnam War, the Korean War, the first Gulf War. In the past, more than 50 countries have produced antipersonnel mines, both for their own stocks and to supply others. Cheap and easy to make, it was said that producing one antipersonnel mine costs $1, yet once in the ground it can cost more than $1,000 to find and destroy.

Currently, there are more than 100-million landmines located in 70 countries around the world, according to OneWorld International. Since 1975, landmines have killed or maimed more than 1-million people, which has led to a worldwide effort to ban further landmine use and clear away existing landmines.

Robotics platforms that detect landmines are often expensive. The MIT developed a low-cost robot, which was estimated to cost about five thousand dollars in 2004. However, after the Arduino platform was developed, we now have to ask ourselves if it is possible to develop a low-cost landmine detector, that could be sold and distributed in countries that are affected by this tragedy.

We made this project as a starting prototype to demonstrate that it is possible. We plan on building a more robust machine that could detect metal in a certain area and upload data directly to map its findings. If we are successful in building this machine, we will be able to develop low cost robots that can detect land mines. These robots could be distributed to countries that are affected by this horrifying phenomenon, such as Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Angola. By developing such a tool children’s lives could be saved and farmers could grow crops in land that is not being used.


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