University Shows off Progress of Interactive Robots

December 20, 2015 | ProgressTH At an event in Bangkok over the weekend, we spotted a child-sized robot that was stealing the show. Built by a small team at Bangkok University, its primary function is to serve tables at restaurants. A quick look at the robot reveals that its head is actually a Kinect motion input device used for interactive computer games.  Using software made by the university team, the robot takes this information, and along with a digital map of the restaurant it works in, uses it to navigate to and from tables, avoid obstacles (including customers and human staff) and even interact with them.

The project has been featured in Fuji Technology's Journal of Robotics and Mechatronics
To build the robot which was designed in SolidWorks, a 3D design program popular among designers and engineers, the files were sent to computer controlled mills to cut out the parts from steel. Other parts, like the many servos that makes up the robot's arms, were ordered from South Korea.

Powering the robot are a series of batteries taken from electric vehicles or computer UPSs (uninterruptible power supply). Batteries can last up to 5 hours and are easily exchanged with fresh ones, while they are recharged.

The development of service robots in Thailand has been ongoing for several years. In that time, great advances have been made not only because of the work being done by students, engineers, and makers in Thailand, but also thanks to collaboration and the inclusion of technological advances made in other fields. The Kinect unit that makes up the robot's vision, for example, was included into the project and gives it enhanced capabilities that would have taken a single team many more years to develop independently.

Because of the hackability of the Kinect system, new software could be developed for the robot. We look forward to seeing future projects from this team, and the advances service robots make in Thailand in the future. Something tells us it won't be long before we see the next breakthrough.

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