Hardware Automation Project

Imagine that instead of training a robot via code, you could instead teach a robot by example.

I have long wondered if we could bring robotic technology like this towards a household helper.

Another way to phrase it, my goal is to do for physical tasks what software automation and programming have done for computational ones.

Do Once, Do For All:

Imagine that you have a redundant task (either a cycle, or a closed group).   A computer can be used to make decisions based on conditions (if thens) for closed groups (for your state space), the cyclic patterns do not need to be so patched together — simply record a single actions and replay it in a loop!

A Culinary Example:

Stirring a soup is one example.  Basically you want to stir the soup until it starts to boil.  Boiling may be detected as a temperature state of the surface (easiest to detect probably with a simple IR-remote-thermometer).  Program the temperature to switch states into the program.

Until the condition is met, we play our recorded physical macro: While ( Temperature < 99 Deg C && Number of boils < 1 ); then play the "stir" macro; done

The code and electronics are relatively simple — it is the recording aspect which requires the actual work.

Recording the Physical Macro:

Basically the idea is to record a macro where you do any of the following:

  • gripping of an object
  • Translations of an object in rectangular coordinates. (e.g. stirring a soup)
  • rotation of knobs
  • be stable and be adjustable for different heights (this may be accomplished manually for the get go).

The “Universal Jamming”  idea I came across on Reddit today finally solves the problem of gripping an object (at least as far as knobs go — although you could probably manually jam a ladle into a universal Jammer quite well).

To try out as soon as possible:

http://youtu.be/q7aoMQveHGc

The above is a DIY universal jammer made of components well under $100.