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Project Help and Ideas » Laptop Robot Friend - My Idea...

August 06, 2009
by Nerdful_com
Nerdful_com's Avatar

Ok, here is my dream that made me realize I need to learn more about electronics and how to control them with a desktop computer (complete n00b to AVR programming, haven't even owned the NerdKit for 24 hours yet) or portable laptop. This is not a project I am working on yet (just want the world to know my main goal so I have to stick to it), as I have not even owned a microprocessor kit from for 24 hours yet. It is a really cool project idea I have had for a long time but will take me a while to know what I am doing with AVR stuff (What is AVR? A RISC architecture for embedded firmware programming of electronics).


An articulated robotic arm/hand gesture system that clips on to a monitor (mixture of puppet and robotics) OR uses an optional robotic laptop stand with wheels that gives the ability to move around rooms. Really just a fancy interactive toy overall.

-software will make a face with expressions show up on the monitor
-voice command/recognition (will have all features of my software I made a few years ago)
-text to speech synthesis
-macro programming (record and play events)
-games for kids, read story
-realistic facial expressions using monitor to display animated character avatars
-optional touchscreen device
-wireless remote control
-gives hugs and has emotions
-record voice notes
-video conferencing
-help learning, educational quizes and games
-language translation (ex: read the Bible to you in 20 languages)
-face recognition (bot knows where your face is)
-friend for kids/elderly in hospital/disabled
-self recharging, returns to homebase when batteries low
-bot can fold/shrink into a desk to use as normal PC
-wifi, ethernet, bluetooth, windows XP/2000
-sensors (motion, sound, tilt, gforce, infarred, temperature, sonar, light)
-source codes, anyone can make software to interact with arms and moving wheels
-industrial version could be made with fully working individual fingers on hands (friend version has hands that simply open and close)

The heart to the "some day soon" project is obviously the desktop computer or a laptop (can be found used on ebay for 150 bux or less on Ebay, mine is a touchscreen 800Mhz Fujitsu B series Lifebook and cost me $120 US a few years ago). It provides the touchscreen and complex software for commands, movements (wheels, arms), sensor readings, games/quizes, translations, voice control/recognition and speech synthesis. But for a PC to interact with external (real world) electronic motors and sensors built in the LapBOT's arms/hands, we need to be able to make electronic circuits to control these that we can have speak to the computer so we will now have to learn microcontroller programming to do this. Each arm will use a Atmega168 chip (hopefully I can use more than one NerdKit on a PC at once with different COM ports), or maybe even an ARM chip (LOL, ARM chip for an arm) with linux for fancier versions. Wheels will have their own microprossor (MCU) that will be controled by laptop, but this is another option if you wish to have your robot be able to move around a building (not stairs).

I already have the PC skills (I can program in Visual Basic, ASP, PHP and can script in most others) and some mechanical skills, but the AVR programming is all new to me so I have decided to go with a simple kit from to get me started as basic as possible. Now I just need to find all the available command references and many more sample source codes (I like to have about 100 codes to learn from) for AVR programming that will work with the Atmel Atmega168 VIA the NerdKit. I see plenty of source codes for Arduino kits (I didn't want a assembled board, I wanted custom circuits), but I do not think they work with the Nerdkit (although Arduino and Nerdkit use the same chips, both have different firmwares/bootloaders), but I am assuming that there is a pure AVR language with complete reference that will work with any Atmega168 chip (that's a clue to me, I will visit Atmel's website and see there).

The hands will not actually move each finger individually, but instead it will be a puppet action that either opens or closes each hand as a whole (wires tied to a servo). This will give gesture like movements, but not any abilities to do actual lifting or grasping. Moving each finger to move independantly would require too many servo motors and make the project more expensive to create/recreate (maybe will create an industrial version that could be put on an assembly line some day).

I will update with some bad sketches I made once I get my scanner back from a friend to give an idea of what it could look like.

Possible names are: LapBOT, CompuBOT, AVRbot, FriendBOT, etc...

Maybe with some help when I am ready and I could offer royalties if it gets marketed or the idea bought.

August 07, 2009
by Nerdful_com
Nerdful_com's Avatar

It will be along time before I have a prototype. So far I have been able to make a LED flash without tutorials.

You can keep up with my progress using AVR (my first attempts of any programmable controllers) on (see me start off confused and see how I finally start to catch on).

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