How Rovio Finds Its Way - The NorthStar System by Evolution RoboticsPosted by Peter Redmer on Monday, 21 January 2008
The up and coming Rovio by WowWee Robotics has certainly generated a huge amount of excitement. Everyone's wondering what the Rovio can do, how it works, if it's hackable, and much more.
The "big question" about Rovio is this: how exactly does it find its way through your home or office automatically? What technology enables it to know where it is at all times - and even follow a pre-determined path as programmed by its user? The answer: the NorthStar system by Evolution Robotics.
Background on the NorthStar System
NorthStar 2.0 was announced January 7th of this year, ushering in a new era of "smart" robots and technology. The WowWee Rovio is the first to employ this revolutionary advancement. What makes NorthStar compelling is that it works, in many ways, like GPS, Radar, and Autopiloting systems combined together. It's also very cost effective, and can be manufactured at 1/100th to 1/1000th the cost of similar systems used in other applications.
Dr. Paolo Pirjanian, in the official press release from Evolution Robotics, states that "these are aerospace grade technologies being introduced at consumer prices..." and that "NorthStar will have a very profound impact on the robotics market, starting with new products in 2008 and rapidly expanding in 2009." There's quite a few other applications that the NorthStar system could (and will) be used in, including next-gen "smart" toys with incredibly fast interaction times, and "cleaning robots" that are more efficient than ever before.
Now, for the "really big question": how does it do all of this great stuff?
How the NorthStar System Works
The core funtionality of the NorthStar system is a mathematical concept called triangulation. Basically, the device measures its relative position and its heading by detecting infrared light spots that are projected onto the ceiling. Each light spot has a unique "signature," so whatever device is using them can localize itself instantly. In addition, the unit won't have to "train" itself to find its way around, nor will its area have to be "mapped" prior to use. It isn't necessary for the CPU to be super-powerful to utilize the technology, which could have many benefits - including being more cost-effective. The NorthStar system is accurate, too; up to just a few centimeters in many applications! Utilizing a compact size, the NorthStar system is easy to implement in many applications. It's flexible and can be set up in multiple configurations. Finally, it's extremely fast - a single measurement time can take as little as 100 milliseconds!
Specifications of the NorthStar System
- Dimensions: 3cm x 4cm x 1cm [1.2" x 1.6" x 0.4"]
- Weight: 0.4 oz [12.5g]
- Power: 3.3 VDC, 200mA
- Communications: Serial in and out, 19200-115200 baud, 5V tolerant interface
- Ambient Lighting Conditions:
- Maximum ambient light, point source: 600 LUX
- Maximum ambient light, diffuse conditions: 2500 LUX
- Max Distance from Detector Plane to Light Plane: 6 m [20 ft]
- Field of View (FOV):
- Square Shaped Area, with width w
- Recommended FOV:
- w = 1.4 X distance from detector plane to light plane
- Example: 2.5 m Ceiling, FOV = 3.6 m X 3.6 m [12 ft X 12 ft]
- Max FOV:
- w = 2.4 X distance from detector plane to light plane
- Example: 2.5 m Ceiling, FOV = 6 m X 6 m [20 ft X 20 ft]
- Single Measurement Time: 100 msec
- Room ID Codes: 10
- Spot ID Codes: 20
This exciting new technology is really promising to shake up the world of robotics - with the new Rovio and many other robots to come.