For maximum configurability, begin with the base from our most recent addition to the Rhoeby Dynamics robot family, The Mini-Turty II. Then choose your LiDAR device, IMU, and camera to suit your budget and technical requirements.
Things You Can Do With Your Mini-Turty Flex Robot
There are many things you can do with your Mini-Turty Flex robot, including:
- Basics: ROS learning
- Teleop: robot remote control
- Map Building: make maps of your home or office for the robot to use
- Navigation: the robot moves autonomously around your home or office
- Tele-Viewing: see what your robot sees, even from another room
- Frontier Exploration: the robot autonomously explores unknown terrain*
- Computer Vision: Mini-Turty Flex recognizes objects in its environment*
*Coming soon, to a robot near you!
Included are simple scripts that enable the robot to be operated with little previous experience. If you can run simple commands from the command line, you can run this robot! Available in kit form, or fully assembled and ready to go. Either way, Mini-Turty Flex provides endless hours of educational fun and represents the ideal platform for learning the Robot Operating System. The kit includes everything you need to build your own robot.
Of course, everything is open source and available for download on our Mini-Turty github repository.
The primary components on this robot include:
- Raspberry Pi 3 B
- 16 GB Micro-SD card
- Rhoeby Mini-Turty II base
- LiDAR: choose from X4, R2D, F4 models
- IMU (optional)
- Camera (optional)
- Pre-loaded with ROS Kinetic Navigation Suite
Mini-Turty Flex is a real robot, not some cheap knock-off toy!
Built on a sturdy chassis and utilizing high-quality mechanical components, the fully-assembled version of the robot is an easily accessed turn-key platform for demonstration and development of ROS features.
The other components of this robot include:
- power regulator
- Raspberry Pi case and wiring harness
- battery and battery case
- castor wheel
- motors and wheels
- motor brackets
- motor controller
- low voltage alarm
- bonus item: pipe cleaner (antennae)!
This is a robust, high-quality, hand-crafted robot made from state-of-the-art 3D-printed parts and easily obtained off-the-shelf components. The robot is designed to be completely user-serviceable and will provide years of reliable operation.
If the robot should happen to get damaged, 3D-printed replacement parts are available via our support channel.
Sensor Data and Motor Wiring System
The robot sensor data and motor wiring:
As can be seen, there is plenty of room left for further expansion, either via the GPIO or USB. This robot utilizes the novel feature of Encoder-Free Odometry, a technique made possible by the use of stepper motors.
Mini-Turty retains all the features you could expect from a mobile navigation-capable robot. The robot uses WiFi for remote connection to the robot services (eg. ssh, remote ROS/RViz, etc.). Using a ROS-enabled PC, simply ‘ssh’ into the robot (default robot name is: ubuntu):
$ ssh -l ubuntu ubuntu
After initial setup, begin using Mini-Turty simply by running the command-line scripts. At the ssh prompt, initialize the robot:
Briefly wait for initialization to complete, then initiate mapping:
It’s that simple!
With Mini-Turty you will be up and running with ROS navigation in no time! Additionally, the robot software can be expanded to support computer vision (using Raspberry Pi camera), as well as many other advanced features (eg. voice-control), limited only by your imagination!
Basic ROS Learning
Learn the basics of ROS including things like running ROS nodes, working with topics, using rosrun and roslaunch, etc. See and interact with working examples of things like publisher and subscriber, record and playback of data (eg LiDAR data). Follow instructions for running ROS across multiple machines, and much more.
Explore such topics as robot coordinate frames, like using the ‘view_frames’ tool to graphically examine the robot ‘tf’ frames. Graphical output helps simplify your view of the robot internal structure.
Mini-Turty supports tele-operation (remote control of the robot) via several methods, including:
- Phone-based control (install Play Store app ‘Map Nav’)
- PC keyboard control (via SSH terminal, eg PuTTY*, or Linux ‘minicom’)
- ROS topic control via ‘cmd_vel’ topic
* PuTTY is a simple terminal program you can run on any Windows PC, see https://putty.org
All of the above methods control the robot via the built-in WiFi connection.
Using Phone-Based Control
You can remotely control Mini-Turty using a phone-based application called ‘Map Nav’, which is available in the Play Store. Download and install the app, specify the IP address of the robot and begin driving your robot around using the virtual joystick control!
With nothing more than the phone app itself (and a properly setup robot), you can be controlling your robot quickly.
The map building aspect is an exciting function of your new robot! It provides the means to make maps of your home or office for the robot to use. This can be both an interesting learning experience, and very useful to your robot in support of its more advanced features.
The process of performing localization and mapping together is referred to as “Simultaneous Localization And Mapping”, or just simply SLAM!
Using your robot, run mapping techniques such as:
- hector mapping
- karto mapping
Save the map(s) for later use by the robot during navigation.
Autonomous navigation includes use of the generated map, path planning, obstacle detection and obstacle avoidance.
In addition to showing the goal, the RViz picture above also shows:
- the mapped data: the black areas
- the scan data from the LiDAR: the white dots
- the robots current position: the red circle
- obstacle inflation: the turquoise/purple areas
As the robot navigates towards a goal, it maintains an area around itself where it performs obstacle inflation, and seeks to keep its path outside of those areas.
Running navigation is simple with your Mini-Turty robot.
1. To run the navigation suite, first close any previous mapping session (press ‘q’, followed by Ctrl-C), then execute the following:
Again, it’s easy to get started with Mini-Turty!
Frontier Exploration is one of the newest and coolest features of our robots. This functionality is what enables the robot to autonomously enter previously unexplored areas, and without any human intervention travel around to fully explore its environment whilst building a map for later use. The robot intelligently explores the unexplored space by only visiting each area once.
Set your Mini-Turty free to explore the great unknown!
Tele-Viewing allows users to see what the robots sees, even from another room! Using the on-robot camera with teleop, users can remotely operate the robot and monitor what’s in the robot field of view.
NOTE: This feature requires addition of the Raspberry Pi camera (optional).
Using OpenCV, run the “Find Cat” software to enable Mini-Turty to search the mapped area for the presence of a cat!
With this function the robot searches the entire mapped area and when it finds a cat it moves towards it and highlights the cat face with a bright magenta circle on the tele-viewed video image!
This is a super-fun application that provides many opportunities to learn about the exciting field of computer vision. The app could be adapted to detect dogs, people and even many household objects.
Re-configure Your Robot
Mini-Turty is completely expandable and re-configurable. We provide all the hardware design files to enable you to add, modify and expand the capabilities of your robot.
If you have access to a 3D-printer your options for enhancing Mini-Turty are truly limitless!
Mini-Turty, the original little robot with big capabilities!