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Robots With Vision

For the past few months, I've been trying to get a wireless camera that I could use for my NXT robots. I ended up getting the camera from that Jim posted about earlier (this was before the Mindsensors camera came out, so I didn't know about that one), plus a USB adapter from Happauge. Both of these items were recommended by RoboRealm, the free vision software I'm using for the camera. I got everything working recently and tried a few things with it, and it performs quite well. The software can do a lot... it's not made specifically for the NXT, but it has an interface to communicate to the Brick via Bluetooth. The RoboRealm folks put up a nice tutorial for using the software in NXT robots, here. Although the tutorial uses some VBScript programming, it's actually not necessary. You can use drag-and-drop "modules" to process the video, and then send variables with data to the robot, which can use an NXT-G program to react correctly. Below are two robots I've made to test the capabilities of the camera

This first robot I made is the usual track-the-ball robot. I wanted to see how well the software's color detection and tracking worked, and I was very satisfied with the result. Although the surroundings need to be controlled (to keep other objects of the same color out), the software does a great job tracking objects. One disadvantage that is very noticeable in this robot, however, is that the Bluetooth communication takes a little while, so the robot doesn't have very good "reaction time". Hence, I had to make it turn slowly so it wouldn't go past the ball before recieving the command to stop.

The below video first shows the robot following the ball from side to side, and then shows it following the ball forwards and backwards. I had some trouble getting it to do both at the same time, and didn't want to take the time to figure it out. :P

For the second robot, I made a "paper-thin" remote control. Basically, I got a piece of paper with four differently colored squares on it. When you put your hand over one of the squares, the robot will react to the command by either moving forward, backward, spinning left, or spinning right, depending on which square was covered. A camera makes this possible by watching the paper from overhead and detecting when a square is covered up. Here's a video of it in action:


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