As we all know, Google has started a true revolution in the smartphone market with the introduction of their open source Android OS. Its growth has been phenomenal, blowing away all expectations as Android’s market share is continuously rising, surpassing all competition. Another good thing Android is doing, especially on the social and economic aspects is that it has managed to bring smartphones to a price range that was before only available for feature-phones.
Android & the Robotics
If revolutionizing the smartphone market hasn’t been enough, Android is making its move on the domain of robotics, trying to enter the core of technology. Financially speaking, this move doesn’t represent quite a big deal, as the Android OS is open source. It signifies the contribution towards the general evolution of technological know-how. Now, let’s think for a moment, can iOS be used for that?
The first steps of the Android OS in this domain has been through the help of hobbyists building small tankbots powered by the very first Android OS and Google phone, the HTC G1. These cheap robots had only the drive frame and a control circuit that interfaced with the phone that acted as a brain. The creators managed to use the phones sensors, such as the inbuilt compass, to create a way for the robot to orient itself and choose the path it must take. Quite impressive, considering that excluding the smartphone, the price of the other parts was a mere $30.
What the original developers started, has since evolved through a world wide hobby that is constantly evolving and giving birth to more and more advanced robots. For more information and to see how far things have got, hit their website. Another favorite of the hobbyists has been the creation of Rubik solving robots which are getting closer to record breaking speeds. Such a robot, based on the Motorola Droid, has managed to solve a puzzle in 25 seconds, getting tantalizing close to the human record of 20 seconds. What is more amazing is that this machine has been made with the help of a Lego robotics kit.
Things are also moving past the realm of a simple hobby as even the world biggest manufacturers are looking into this subject. Quite a while ago we heard rumors of ASUS planing on creating a line of Eee Bots.
Android has also went where little men have been, in space. This has been done through the help of balloons that reach extreme altitudes of over 18 km and even with the help of rocket propulsion.
It is surely not a coincidence that the Nexus S will become a permanent inhabitant of the International Space Station INT inside floating orb robots that are propelled by small CO2 thrusters. This will be an upgrade to the Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (Spheres) that were developed at MIT and have been in use on the ISS since 2006.
Normally, the Spheres orbs carry out preprogrammed commands from a computer aboard the ISS, but the Nexus Android phones will give them increased processing power, cameras, other sensors and links to ground crew who will pilot them.
“The goal is to find out how we can use telerobotics to increase the efficiency of human explorers and ground controllers,” says DW Wheeler of the Intelligent Robotics Group at NASA’s Ames Research Center.
The robots can help with simple tasks on-board of the ISS such as supplies and inventory checks or other possible inspections, leaving the human crew to focus on more important tasks.
Android has been the OS that brought the smartphone to everyone and as things are looking now, it will also be the one who’ll bring robotics to a mass market.