A smartphone contains all that’s needed for it to be an excellent robot controller, for a relatively low cost (certainly compared to buying its functionality separately), and you have at least one already:
- a very fast CPU and lots of memory
- fully programmable
- an application platform with APIs for accessing all the features of the phone
- fast communication over long distances (including distance / power trade-offs)
- audio input and output
- video/picture input (camera) and output (display)
- location/tilt sensors: GPS, accelerometer, compass, gyroscope
- interaction via touch display
- robot control via USB
The robot part provides locomotion and possibly sensors for its own status.
The half-tricky part is the link between the phone and the robot, but it’s no question USB is given for this.
An Android phone would be best for this, as you don’t need to register the apps at an app store when making stand-alone apps. For iOS you’d have to.
There’s need for a controller on the robot as well, handling the communication between the phone and the motors, complementing sensors etc.
Then of course there’s need for more or less advanced software to sense the surroundings, follow instructions (pre-programmed or communicated), possibly determine actions on its own, and control the robot, but that’s the truly fun bit.
E.g. Sparkfun provides several solutions for the base robot.
If you are into Arduino, this might be a good choice. Just add a USB Host shield.
DFRobotShop Rover – Arduino Compatible Tracked Robot (Basic Kit)
Anyone willing to take up the challenge? Anyone already done this successfully?