London-based roboticist Evangelos Georgiou wants to offer an open-source platform for helping Arduino hobbyists take their projects mobile, thanks to a remote controlled robot called the RK-1 that combines a programmable Arduino microcontroller with apps for iPhone or Android, tank tracks, DC motors and Wi-Fi connectivity. It’s a project that could really help out with home hobbyists, or with education workshops and classes to get people young and old more interested in robotics.
The apps for the RK-1 will be free to download from the App Store and Google Play, according to Georgiou, and they use swipe touch gestures to manage changes in direction and forward/backward movement. It’s simple, and intuitive, but does look like it could be a very cool way for people to add an extra dimension to their product. And since Georgiou is following the example of other open source hardware hobbyist gadget sellers like Adafruit, there’s ample opportunity for cross-pollination with other similar projects, with built-in support in the ultimate companion app for sensors and breakout boards favored by the Arduino community.
Georgiou is a PhD student at King’s College London, and is also working full-time as a software developer at the school. His area of expertise is the impressive sounding “autonomous non-holonomic mobile robots implementing computer vision and advanced machine learning methods,” which basically translates to him really knowing what he’s talking about when it comes to building bots. His co-founder in the project Reetu Kansal is an experience assurance manager, and has been helping with project design and operation management as the RK-1 has developed.
Georgiou is seeking just £5,000 (7,800 U.S.), but already has stretch goals in place for £15,000 on up to £50,000, in a fit of optimism. Pre-orders of RK-1 kits start at £150 ($234 U.S.). It’s an ambitious product, but its founder has both the software and hardware know-how to make it happen, and this could be a very welcome component for robotics home hobbyists and educators.