iRobot has released a version of the Roomba platform aimed at hobbyists, developers and researchers [via Ars Technica]. The iRobot “Create” (what an awkward name) seems to be a Roomba without the vacuuming bits, and with a payload bay and expansion port. If you don't want to use the serial port or hack your own hardware onto the expansion port, you can buy the iRobot Command Module, with an 8-bit, 20 MHz ATMega 168 microcontroller for straightforward onboard control.
There's a Create project gallery but at this point it's not much more than tiny photos of modded Creates. Some of the examples make me wonder just how much payload these things can take and still move—this may be our best shot at Roomba Cinema.
The base model is $129. If you're interested in doing some swarming with robust, proven hardware, the 10-pack for $999 seems like a great deal.
I'm also very curious about the Robotics Primer Workbook (companion to The Robotics Primer, by Maja J Mataric´ and soon? to be published by MIT Press). It looks like it's going to be an open source guide to some advanced robot programming topics, focusing on the Create with the iRobot Command Module or a gumstix-based controller (and some mention of the Microsoft Robotics Studio).Posted by jjwiseman at January 10, 2007 03:21 PM