One of the main reasons for using cell phones as part of robots is to drive down costs. Today’s phones come with wi-fi, cellular connections, Bluetooth, GPS, touch sensing, accelerometers, magnetometers, displays, microphones, speakers, and cameras. They are now being powered by 1Ghz processors and come with ample amounts of storage. Everything you need in a robot except for mobility is already in your pocket. We just needed to add some inexpensive mobility to it.
You can see the cardboard Truckbot in action here:
We started work on the Android Ardunio cellbot by looking at a kit from Oomlout called SERB. At $175 it was way out of our price range unfortunately. Oomlout provides everything you need to build your own kit but we wanted to use smaller servos ($3.50 each) and needed a place to mount a phone. So we tried designing our own layout using CAD software called Solid Works. Then we made practice cuts using the laser on cardboard, which turned out to be sturdy enough to run without needing expensive acrylic.
Here is Tim explaining the truckbot in detail.
It was just by chance that the design started to resemble a truck, and future designs might make better use of the truck bed for payloads. The design should also work for acrylic and larger servos with some slight modifications. We were going to make mounting holes for the Arduino boards but found that plastic tie straps keep things simple and flexible.
You can find the CAD drawing for the truckbot, the Arduino source, and Python scripts on our Google Code project site. Check out pictures below from the 4-weeks that we worked on the robot at the Tech Shop in Menlo Park.