Money from the three companies has enabled researchers at Carnegie Mellon University to create a series of Internet-connected robots that almost anyone can build using off-the-shelf parts.
Possible robots range from a three-wheeled model with a mounted camera to a sensor-equipped flower.
As part of the Telepresence Robot Kit (TeRK), a joint effort unveiled last summer between the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute and Charmed Labs, associate professor of robotics Illah Nourbakhsh and members of his Community Robotics, Education, and Technology Empowerment (CREATE) Lab have created a series of "recipes" for robot building.
The heart of the TeRK is the robot controller, called Qwerk, available from the Charmed Labs Web site ($349). The unit functions as an electronic brain and handles wireless Internet connectivity, motion control, and functions like sending and receiving photos or video, responding to RSS feeds, and searching the Net.
Qwerk is a Linux-based computer. It uses a field-programmable gate array to control motors, servos, cameras, amplifiers, and other devices. It also can accept USB peripheral devices, such as Web cameras and GPS receivers.
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