Exploring an unstructured environment


I’ve just started looking into hobby robotics and have much admired the videos showing the 3pi doing lines and mazes and more so section 4 of the video pages that shows robots with added sensors.

However, I’m more intrigued by the idea of having a robot map out a space (e.g. my basement floor) autonomously. This is a harder problem than any I’ve seen solved and clearly distance sensors would need to be added. Any thoughts whether it is feasible at all with a 3pi? I haven’t looked into this kind of problem yet, but I figure one step is to give the robot a map and have it localize itself. The next phase would be to get the robot to generate its own map from scratch. I have no idea how noisy the available sensor data is; any thoughts on whether it can be done?

I also don’t know anything about the capabilities of the on-board controller. However, I have a raspberry pi that I might be able to bolt on. Has anyone done that yet? I had a crazy thought that a raspberry pi with a webcam might be able to localize itself using video imagery (in addition to range sensors?).

Appreciate any thoughts,

Hello, Steve.

You might be able to do something with the 3pi, but there are a lot of sensors that can help a lot with navigation that would not be practical to add to it. Some examples would be wheel encoders and laser range finders. I think it is also quite possible that the ATmega328 is not up to the task. Adding a Raspberry Pi and a webcam sounds like it might be possible; I haven’t heard of someone doing that.

- Ryan