Maker Faire

Mowbi - A robotic lawn mower using low-cost off the shelf components.

Type: Maker Table/Exhibit
Program Area: Robotics

All Day Saturday and Sunday

Location: Fiesta Hall

Entry into the design of robotic and autonomous devices can be a very expensive exercise. Purpose-built components such as wheeled or tracked bases and the software development environments to develop solutions can be expensive and require extensive skills. The end results typically have low load capacity, limited battery life and are relatively fragile.

As an example of making a low cost entry for a complex robotic platform I will show my "Mowbi" platform, based on the Friendly Robotics RL550 Lawnmower with a small laptop supporting 802.11 wireless communications as the controller.
The base is the Friendly Robotics RL550 with all the grasscuttng equipment removed which supplies a strong roomy base for experimentation. The electronics are replaced with a standard small laptop running windows XP Embedded and RS232 or USB based driver modules for motor and sensor processing.

Because of the standardized operating system, GPS, compass and camera inputs can be easily added to the platform if required. Development in a Visual basic environment provides for simplified development skill levels, and wireless connectivity makes transfer of programs to the controller very simple.

The final platform is capable of continous operation for 12 hours+ due to the large battery capacity provided by the platform base.

Presented by

Jack Creasey
Tech Marketing Eng

A tinkerer for many years, I started as most young guys building and flying model aircraft. I am currently fascinated with using COTS components and software for complex projects. Using these mass produced components will allow many more people to experience the thrill of developement.