Researchers at Intel Labs have developed a smart robot that anyone with a smartphone can build, using open source code, a 3D printer, and $50. What is different with this 3D printed robot is that the smartphone isn’t just used to control the robot, as with devices such as MobBob or Qualcomms Micro Rover, but is used directly as the ‘brains’ of the bot, leveraging the advanced features and operating systems in today’s smartphones to enable high-quality sensing and computation, while improving affordability, accessibility and scalability—all within a $50 budget (not including the smartphone).
While there have been efforts previously at making robot technology affordable and scalable, compromises have been made either in design, functionality, or performance. Relatively expensive robots in this area of research can cost between $2,000-$5,000, while mobile-based robots are significantly less expensive, yet still fall between $250-500 in cost, such as the AWS DeepRacer, DJI Robomaster S1, Nvidia JetBot, and DukieBot.
As the study says, “the aforementioned projects use the smartphone as a remote control for teleoperation, offload data to a server for processing, or rely on commercial or outdated hardware and software. In contrast, our platform turns a smartphone into the brain of a fully autonomous robot with onboard sensing and computation.”