After being disappointed with a robotic arm he received for the holidays, one Maker decided to build his own bot instead.
With Maker Faire season in full swing, we just can’t seem to get enough of robotic creations. Recently, we came across a pretty sweet project from John Fin, who devised a voice-controlled, Arduino-based bot of his own.
The idea was initially conceived after the Maker received a robotic arm for Christmas and was displeased with its quality. Three months later, he had a fully-functioning bot navigating through his garage. The robot, which goes by the name of S.P.A.R.C., is powered by an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) with an EasyVR voice control shield connected to an Arduino Duemilanove (ATmega328) with a motor shield.
S.P.A.R.C. works by accepting simple commands, generally formatted by naming the object to be manipulated, then a desired action, followed by a number. For instance, “Forward 1… Turn right 1…. Arm up 7…. Wrist down 6.” In true robotic fashion, it even emits a friendly beep between each segment of the command. As Fin explains, the reason for saying a number is to give the operator incremental control.
So what exactly can S.P.A.R.C. do? For starters, the bot can move its arm up and down, grasp and release items, follow and stop on a dime, among many other things. Not only can it be controlled by voice, an operator can use a remote as well. Beyond that, S.P.A.R.C. can respond to inquiries in Siri-like fashion, ranging from a simple “What’s my name?” to the weather forecast — which is all made possible through an on-board Galaxy S2 smartphone running the Dragon Assistant app. This gives the robot Internet access and “a little extra personality,” too.
Aside from its embedded Arduino boards and smartphone, S.P.A.R.C. is equipped with an extendable mast to bring items up and down, a sonar for measuring distance and detecting obstructions, movable lights, an arm with changeable grippers, a toolbox for whatever, a built-in Bluetooth-enabed speaker, a power inverter, and of course, two wheels for ultimate 360-degree mobility.
Pretty cool, right? Watch S.P.A.R.C. in action below!