Two students from VR Siddartha Engineering College in India have developed a virtual telepresence robot, enabling users to see what is happening in a remote location. They employed two approaches: Raspberry Pi and MyRIO. The project, which Professor V.N. Prudhvi Raj supervised, explains how robots can capture video data in real-time and monitor places inaccessible to humans.
Mani Babu Gorantala and Grandhi Sathy, who belong to Electronics and Instrumentation Engineering Department, developed this robot as their final project for their graduation. They were inspired by an article about telepresence robots published in the magazine Electronics For You. Their main objective was to allow users to see events that are happening in remote locations in real-time. They developed a robot with an onboard camera and Wi-Fi capabilities that captures videos and allows users to monitor the situation on their smartphones, internet browsers, or Virtual Reality Headsets.
The users feel as if they are present at the location as the robot’s onboard camera moves according to the user’s head movements. They achieved this using accelerometers and gyroscopes, i.e., sensors that determine an object’s position and orientation. The data collected in a user’s smartphone is used to assess their head movements.
The data is transferred to a Rasberry Pi device and used to control the movements of the robot’s camera. The researchers used Arduino for the robot’s back and forth, left and right movements. Although Rasberry Pi can control the robot’s motor, it requires higher RAM. Therefore, the researchers decided to use different controllers like Rasberry Pi and Arduino.
The researchers later substituted Rasberry Pi and Arduino with a more sophisticated device called MyRIO, which is more expensive and has higher processing capability. It is a portable device that can serve both as a data processor as well as a controller. Thus, it combines the capabilities of both Rasberry Pi and Arduino.
The researchers believe that their model has a wide range of applications. Although they are currently not planning to commercialize the robot, their work can inspire researchers worldwide to create advanced telepresence robots. These robots can be very useful in monitoring secluded, remote, inaccessible, and dangerous places from afar. Additionally, one can use robots for security purposes, such as to monitor home or workplace environments.