Sure, robotic concepts are dime a dozen these days. The question is, however, how close are we to an era of ubiquitous multi-function droids? According to Flower Robotics, soon. The company is envisioning a future where everyday household items, such as lamps and plants, come to life and move freely about our homes. In an effort to lower the barriers for development and adoption of in-house robots, the Tokyo-based design studio recently launched its futuristic device, Patin.
Patin, which is a French word for “skate,” is an open-source platform equipped with an interface that connects service units on an autonomously movable body through artificial intelligence. The robot’s AI is capable of navigating areas through observation and making real-time decisions based on its environment. By mounting existing products on Patin, the team believes a new lifestyle can be created, one in which human movement is coordinated with concepts such as lighting and planting.
Need an extra hand to carry your groceries? A little more light? A reminder to water your plants? To turn up the tunes? Each of these tasks (and more) can be accomplished by the bot.
Unlike other task-specific gadgets, i.e. the iRobot Roomba, Patin is comprised of a mobile base with an upper deck to which you can attach different modules, meaning homeowners will only need one device and the necessary attachments for new functionalities, such as moving a lamp closer to an individual reading, caring for a plant in need of nutrients, or blasting tunes from nearby speakers.
At the moment, Flower Robotics is still working on the prototype which boasts a set of Omni wheels, and is controlled by NVIDIA’s Jetson TK1 CPU and an [Atmel based] Arduino board. To navigate and detect nearby objects, the device is equipped with an assortment of cameras — including a depth-sensitive camera developed by ASUS — as well as several contact and proximity sensors.
Patin’s core structure is built around four parts: a main body, an application (the service unit), Pit (charging and communication unit) and a cloud. New functions can be added through a space perception sensor like a 3D camera, a Patin unit with AI autonomous function, and other service units with expandable functions. As its team notes, not only is it responsible for charging the main body, but the Pit unit transmits information to and from the cloud via Wi-Fi. The cloud then monitors and tracks the robot’s behavior and other pertinent information from each Patin, and distributes updated information accordingly.
Wait, it gets better. Patin will also include an Android-based SDK for developers, enabling them to design their own peripherals for the prototype. By providing third parties with technical support like SDK and simulators, designers and Makers alike will have the opportunity to partake in the its ongoing development. Embracing an open community model, individuals can contribute to and collaborate on the promotion and dissemination of this next-gen home robot, thereby lowering the its barrier of entry into the market.
“From now on, thirds parties will be able to develop their own ideas to build robots using our open source platform to provide platformatize tool based on open source idea, interface for service unit connection as an AI robot development platform for assuming the third parties will be joining service unit development.”
“For example, by teaming up with technology developers, manufacturers of existing products such as electrical appliances, furniture, and interior design could add a robotic element to their products,” the team writes.
Flower Robotics is currently working on its Atmel powered prototype and plans to commercialize Patin by 2016. Will you be welcoming one into your household?
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