Tag Archives: iRobot Create

Controlling the iRobot Create

I have spent the week working on accessing the iRobot Create’s interface and integrating this functionality with the rest of my code.

The iRobot Create is controllable via the Create Open Interface, a specification for which can be found here. This is simply a series of commands that can be sent via the serial connection to the device. In my opinion this is a great way of doing it and avoids the hassle of configuring and learning a complicated library. It does however mean that I had to create code myself to do the functions that I wanted (e.g. driving the motors and reading off distance measurements), something I first prototyped in Python to check it worked before moving to C++ so it could be integrated with the rest of my project.

This gave me a good chance to restructure my code from a very arrangement where I had all the Pandaboard’s code in a single, messy file, and all the code for the host computer in another file, with a fair amount of duplicated code. I restructured the code to split the components into different files for: the computer vision, the serial interface, the networking interface and the robotic controls. I then created a separate, much reduced, file to be run on the host computer which makes use of the same networking components. The compilation is then controlled by a single Makefile which will build the correct versions for each machine.

The new structure took me several days to implement and iron out the bugs, but it is significantly better and more object-oriented approach than I used previously and will definitely save me time in the long run.
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Progress Update

Over the past week or so I have acquired a Pandaboard to run the project on, and organised a Microsoft Kinect and an iRobot Create (a Roomba without the vacuum cleaner compartment) for the main components.

I have spent some time setting up the Pandaboard and installing an Operating System. I have opted to use an ARM desktop build of Ubuntu 12.04 for buycbdproducts time being as it is relatively straight forward to use and people have previously got a Pandaboard running it and interfacing with a Kinect via the open source drivers. As such I figured that while it is a fairly heavy-weight Operating System for the task in hand – especially from a performance/power-consumption point of view – it is a known working configuration and is a great place to start and learn the process of getting it working.

I have tried to install and run the drivers, however while installing one of the libraries the system crashed and eventually had to be manually restarted. This left it in a partially upgraded state which did not find my somewhat heavy-handed restoration attempt pleasing. I am now back to square one and need to reinstall Ubuntu on the SD card and try again.