Feeds

Vacuum firm wants to clean up with DIY robots

Rolling your own gets easier

The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

One of the funnier sights at this year's CES was a video of a hamster ball. It wasn't any old rodent workout – this one was steering a robot. The hamster seemed to be having fun, and the developer was having a ball too...

Behind it all was iRobot's Create, which takes the familiar Roomba and Scooba cleaners, and turns their common hardware into the core of a robotics development kit. Unlike many other kits, Create is ready to go as soon as you take it out of the box, with the familiar trilobite shape of the Roomba. Instead of a vacuum cleaner, there's a spacious payload bay, with standard fittings so you can add your own hardware to your robot. A fourth, rear, wheel has been added to make sure your creations stay stable.

The basic Create platform comes with 10 built-in demo applications and 32 different sensors you can use in your applications. The basic Create uses iRobot's Open Interface language to build simple applications using the Create's own sensors and motors. Your instructions are assembled on the PC and loaded onto Create via USB.

With iRobot providing the motors and many of the sensors you'll need, along with a SDK, Create makes a useful educational tool. The price is good too, with the basic hardware coming in at a very reasonable $129. You'll need to plug in the optional controller module if you want your robot to control additional hardware or use more sensors. This adds a programmable microcontroller along with four DB-9 ports for managing your own hardware. A breakout board and light sensors are due soon, simplifying adding hardware and adding new capabilities.

You program the controller with C or C++, rather than Open Interface – so this is an add-on for the more advanced robotics developer. Alternatively (and more adventurously), you can take advantage of Create's copious documentation and build your own interface boards using the 25-pin port used by the microcontroller module.

You can purchase these and other add-ons separately, or just hand over a few more dollars for one of iRobot's bundled kits – and if you're a school or a college using the iRobot tools as part of a course, 10 Creates can be bought for $999. At that price the Create becomes a BBC Buggy for a new generation of robotics hobbyists – and this time without the miles of ribbon cable.

Roomba hacking is already widespread. With Create you don't need to worry about breaking your vacuum cleaner – and you'll get a proven base for your own creations. Just remember, it won't clean up after you... ®

Seven Steps to Software Security

More from The Register

next story
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
KDE releases ice-cream coloured Plasma 5 just in time for summer
Melty but refreshing - popular rival to Mint's Cinnamon's still a work in progress
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Put down that Oracle database patch: It could cost $23,000 per CPU
On-by-default INMEMORY tech a boon for developers ... as long as they can afford it
Another day, another Firefox: Version 31 is upon us ALREADY
Web devs, Mozilla really wants you to like this one
Google shows off new Chrome OS look
Athena springs full-grown from Chromium project's head
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.