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Which robot can or should I get to run ROS?

asked 2011-02-15 10:46:54 -0500

Alex Bravo gravatar image

updated 2011-02-17 04:57:20 -0500

I've heard a lot of good things about ROS and I want to try running it.

PR2 is a little too expensive to me though. Is there anything more afordable to give ROS a try? What is the best use of my money?

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answered 2011-02-17 22:46:32 -0500

Note that if you want to try running ROS you don't really need robot hardware. The cheapest option costs no money at all - It's running a robot in simulation. There are quite a few robot models available for doing that. I can recommend the 'erratic_robot' stack, which provides a differential driven robot that you can use to drive around in gazebo simulation. It of course always depends on your focus, but for playing around, understanding basic concepts of navigation, the coordinate frame conventions etc. this is a very good option.

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answered 2011-02-15 11:12:25 -0500

mjcarroll gravatar image

Depending on what you want to try with ROS, you can start with a relatively basic platform. I think that the main requirements for this platform (in order to be able to fully appreciate ROS) would be:

  • Locomotion: Some way of moving around in an environment. As Tully suggests, an iRobot Create is a good approach. You may also roll-your-own. Generally, if you design your own platform, you will have to write your own nodes to interface with the motors, rather than relying on previously-written stacks. A suggestion, though, encoders (or some sort of odometry) are more or less a must for navigation applications.
  • Computation: A (somewhat portable) computer that is capable of running ROS. There are plenty of solutions for this from a single board computer up to a full motherboard (or servers like the PR2!). Computation power is typically determined by how much you want to do. You can play with some of the ROS nodes on your computer to get a feel for what size computer you will need (and then buy bigger!)
  • Sensing: In order to do navigation and SLAM, you will need some way to see your environment around you. The Kinect has really revolutionized this part, mainly because of the price point. Other sensors are available, such as laser range finders (not cheap), or webcam inputs.

For basic navigation, mapping, and SLAM work, this should be enough to whet your appetite. As you move to more advanced concepts (such as arm motion planning), you may need more advanced hardware, but this will cover a wide variety of topics.

As an aside, I have essentially described the Bilibot that @Tully linked to in his answer, just letting you know that other options are also available.

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FYI, Bilibot is officially dead.

Cerin gravatar imageCerin ( 2014-09-12 12:53:07 -0500 )edit
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answered 2011-02-15 10:50:38 -0500

Tully gravatar image

There are many robots using ROS. See http://www.ros.org/wiki/Robots

For a learning platform something like the Create or Rovio might be a good place to start. There are several projects working to build up the user experience on the create such as http://www.bilibot.com/ coming soon.

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answered 2014-09-12 13:21:06 -0500

Cerin gravatar image

Some answers have mentioned the Bilibot, which is discontinued, or the Turtlebot, which is a bit rickety and expensive. The Qbo costs about the same as a Kinect-enabled Turtlebot, but looks a lot nicer and has more features. I haven't used it though.

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Qbo hasn't had updates in more than a year, and runs ubuntu 11.10 + ROS electric (both very end-of-life), so definitely not recommended.

paulbovbel gravatar imagepaulbovbel ( 2014-09-12 14:38:17 -0500 )edit

The Turtlebot2 is an updated version of the original Turtlebot and is much more robust. I've been borrowing one from a friend and I'm enjoying it.

ahendrix gravatar imageahendrix ( 2014-09-13 00:13:48 -0500 )edit
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answered 2011-02-17 19:54:22 -0500

Alper Aydemir gravatar image

updated 2011-02-17 20:09:10 -0500

If you want a relatively cheap but still powerful and flexible setup then also you might want to look at Roboard. It is basically a mini-ITX board customized towards robotics needs. We are holding a robotics course here at KTH with students building a robot and writing software for a contest from scratch, they start only with a toolbox, aluminium sheets and wheels + RoBoard + a webcam + Serializer 3.0 + couple of range finding sensors (IR + Sonar mostly).

The end goal is to have a contest where students compete in a simulation of a rescue mission. The robot is in a maze, maps and "rescues" golf balls (victims) in the priority order indicated by a near by barcode from the maze all the while avoiding bombs.

Roboard also has a ROS repository and an OK C++ library. Here's the ROS blog post about Roboard http://www.ros.org/news/2010/10/ros-repository-for-roboard-and-humanoids-now-available.html

here's the course wiki with instructions: http://cogvis.nada.kth.se/roboticscourse/wiki/ Here's a student group video with a robot that they've built from scratch. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQqyBHkNOvA

Hope this helps.

This year we want to switch to ROS, I guess at some point I should send an email to ROS people when it matures..

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Asked: 2011-02-15 10:46:54 -0500

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Last updated: Sep 12 '14