Friday, April 27, 2007

CMU TeRK Project: Open Source Robots

Yesterday CMU announced
the Telepresence Robot Kit (TeRK)
project. Originally developed by CMU professor Illah Nourbakhsh and
funded by Google, Intel and Microsoft. The idea is to release several robot plans
(called "recipes") for building simple, web-enable robots from
off-the-shelf parts. They hope the sudden proliferation of
web-enabled robots will generate new interest in robotics. The robot is
based on the Qwerk
microcontroller developed by the CMU CREATE lab and Austin-based Charmed Labs. The Qwerk is
Linux-based SBC with a 200MHz ARM9 and 32MB of RAM. The board also
includes a Xilinx Spartan FPGA, USB, assorted I/O and, of course, 10/100
Ethernet for net access. At $350 each, the Qwerk is a bit pricey
compared to other recent Linux micros such
as the $69 Atmel
ATNGW100, which has similar features. On the other hand, if you
plunk down the money for the Qwerk, CMU will provide a lot of ready to
go software for you to use including the Qwerkbot
Teleop Interface, the Robot
Universal Remote (RUR), Robot
Dance Studio, Qwerk
Audio Player, the Express-O-Matic
graphic programming tool, and, well, a lot of other stuff. All of this
is Free
Software licensed under the GNU GPL.


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