Telepresence robot

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For MasterpiECE Mania in 2015 Eric Johnson created a telepresence robot. This robot can act as a person in a remote location. This can be useful in cases where a person would have to do business in a remote location to save travel costs. It can also take the place of a person who is sick so that they would not contaminate others. Most of these robots cost at least $3000 dollars if not much more. The goal of the project was to create a simple open source telepresence robot for under $500.

For the design of the robot, they used a wooden frame as it would be cheap and simple. This could be the standard for lower cost robots, but could be easily changed over to metal. They used 4 high power motors to do the driving mounted to the base. In order to communicate with the robot from the computer code was written for a server application which would handle the communication between the human and the robot. An application was written for the computer which would send commands to the server. An android application running on a smartphone on the robot would go and fetch data from the server. This data was then outputted via USB OTG to an Arduino which controlled the motor controller which controlled the motors. The phone also ran skype so a video link could be established.

The robot won 2nd place in the competition and was demoed at the ECE open house. Video here: