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Device Profile: MobileRobots Seekur indoor/outdoor mobile robot

Aug 2, 2006 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 61 views

MobileRobots (formerly ActivMedia) is shipping an all-weather, indoor/outdoor Linux-ready mobile robot that targets “intelligent navigation” applications, such as laser mapping. The nimble, “holonomic” Seekur offers space, power, and networking for up to five EBX form-factor embedded PCs, and is available with a variety… of sensor options.

(Click for larger view of Seekur robot)

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The Seekur measures 55 x 51 x 42 inches (1.4 x 1.3 x 1.1 meters), and without accessories, weighs about as much as an eight-foot Steinway concert grand piano — 770 pounds, or 350kg. The robot has a “weight-saving aluminum unibody,” MobileRobots says, along with a rugged steel suspension offering two inches of travel.

The MobileRobots Seekur, with “laser mapping” kit

The Seekur has 16-inch pneumatic tires offering seven inches of ground clearance. It can carry up to 110 pounds, climb 20 percent grades, and travel over uneven terrain such as fields and parking lots at speeds up to 5mph, MobileRobots says.

The Seekur has a 35.5-inch wheelbase, and a 31.5-inch track. All four wheels are steerable, to support sideways travel and other “holonomic” maneuvers, such as on-the-spot turns.

Battery life is claimed to be seven hours, while recharging the 24-volt batteries takes eight hours, according to the company.

The Seekur is available with a variety of hardware accessories, including:

  • Laser mapping and navigation
  • Inertial measurement unit
  • Up to five onboard PCs
  • Wireless radio communications
  • Wireless joystick

The Seekur's soft side

Like other robots from MobileRobots (formerly ActivMedia), such as the PatrolBot and the PeopleBot, the Seekur is controlled by a proprietary firmware layer that runs on an environmentally hardened microcontroller. Two firmware options appear to be available, including “uARCS” (micro advanced robotics control system), which offers a basic “ARAM” API, and ARCOS (advanced robotics control operating system), which offers a more powerful “ARIA” API.

The ARIA API (“advanced robotics interface for applications”) enables C++ applications running under Linux and/or Windows XP on the onboard EBX SBCs — connected via Ethernet or serial lines to each other and the robot's hardened microcontroller — to control velocity, heading, relative heading, and other navigation settings, as well as collect data from sensors. The ARIA API is compatible with Cepstral and Sphinx voice synthesis and speech recognition systems, according to MobileRobots.

Available software applications include several commercial software development packages, laser- and sonar-based autonomous navigation and localization (ARNL) software, map compilers and editors, a “mobile eyes” robot control GUI, a mobile robot simulator, and several computer vision software packages.

Programming flexibility

MobileRobots CEO Jeanne Dietsch stated, “Robot programmers have their own ideas about how software should work. They prefer to pick and choose what's useful for their particular problem, rather than have someone to dictate a system for them to comply with. We offer robots that use Linux or Windows onboard mixed with either OS offboard in the computers that interact with the robots.”

Dietsch adds, “Flexibility is key. Roboticists do everything imaginable to our robots. One group in Italy sawed a robot in half and re-assembled it a different way.”


The Seekur will ship in early 2007, priced at $60,000. Videos of the robot in action may be available here.

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