Technopark-based International Centre for Free and Open Source Software (ICFOSS) has developed a low-cost telepresence robot prototype ‘TR-7’ based on open source hardware and software platforms.
The prototype was developed as part of an android R & D project of the Department of Information Technology (DIT), currently being implemented by the ICFOSS.
The robotic prototype TR-7 was fabricated by Ingen Robotics, a local firm focusing on new generation robotics, based on specifications provided by the ICFOSS.
TR-7 is an affordable telepresence robot, made using locally available components. The user can operate the robot remotely from anywhere in the world using a computer with internet connection and software to control the robot.
The user is able to see and hear from a remote location using the robot’s built-in camera and microphone.
Anyone in the remote location can also see and hear the user through the robot’s display and speakers. Existing software is used for video communication. All other hardware and software components used are available under open licences.
R Srinivasan, project manager of the DIT project of the ICFOSS, said:”The first version of the robot proved that telepresence devices based on open source platforms such as android were fully viable. Further work needs to be done on areas such as enhanced robot autonomy, pan/ tilt-zoom capability on the robot and automated homing. These would enable the robot to be used in production applications such as remote inspection and surveillance, in multiple domains such as military applications, agriculture, and infrastructure management”.
Rejin Narayanan, CEO, Ingen Robotics, who carried out the fabrication of the robot said that the main challenges were to address the designing aspect.
“The navigation electronics as well as the communication protocols between the control station and the robot were major challenges, especially given the stipulation that only open source hardware and software were to be used. We hope to achieve a 100-per cent open source by the next iteration”.
Telepresence robots are rapidly finding applications in domains ranging from offices and public spaces to space, marine and underwater, telemedicine, agriculture, military, and hazardous environments.