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Open Source Code: Using XBox Kinect with the LabVIEW Robotics Starter Kit May 25, 2011

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This example features sensor fusion, using the Kinect to gather the 3D image of the world and a scanning sonar to help avoid obstacles that get too close for the Kinect to see.

Check out the full recipe on the NI Robotics Code Exchange, including hardware lists, software and setup requirements, as well as code descriptions and downloads.

Download: Using the XBox Kinect with LabVIEW Robotics Starter Kit

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Kinect 6D Visualization in LabVIEW April 19, 2011

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The LabVIEW Kinect code keeps rolling in. I am happy to share yet another example that is available for free download.

This one is very similar to John Wu’s LabVIEW + Kinect example I shared awhile back. Karl Muecke, NI R&D engineer, shares his 6D visualization example on the NI Robotics Code Exchange.

You can view a video screen capture of the demo and download his open source code here:

https://decibel.ni.com/content/blogs/MechRobotics/2011/04/19/kinect-6d-visualization-in-labview

More LabVIEW Development for the Xbox Kinect April 7, 2011

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So remember when I said the Xbox Kinect was going to revolutionize robotics (at least from a sensor-hardware point of view)?

Well, when it rains, it pours: More and more LabVIEW developers are uniting, creating and sharing drivers that allow you to communicate with the Xbox Kinect hardware using LabVIEW software.

An NI Community member, anfredres86, has published his VI driver library, making it easy to download and install the necessary files for you to start developing robotics applications in LabVIEW that utilize the Kinect hardware for robot sensing.

Here is a video of the 2D occupancy grid mapping example he put together using LabVIEW and the Kinect:

I encourage everyone to check out (and download) his code:

Kinect Drivers for Labview: http://decibel.ni.com/content/docs/DOC-15655

And be sure to share your examples on the NI Robotics Code Exchange as well!

Open Source Code: Using LabVIEW to Acquire iPhone Accelerometer Data April 1, 2011

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Ok, so this week’s post proves that I simply can’t get enough of John Wu’s blog, RIOBotics. John is cranking out LabVIEW code for robotics applications , left and right.

This time, John helps you use LabVIEW to acquire and plot data directly from your iPhone’s accelerometer through UDP. (I bet this is similar to how Waterloo Labs was able to build an iPhone app that allowed them to steer a car by tilting their iPhone from side to side.)

Visit John’s blog to download his code.

Xbox Kinect Hack Using LabVIEW March 7, 2011

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If you haven’t seen this already, you need to. The Xbox Kinect is not only revolutionizing gaming, it will revolutionize the way humans interact with machines, including robots (think: robots can now more easily interpret human gestures).

Ryan Gordon, from http://ryangordon.net/, got things started by building and sharing a LabVIEW wrapper for the OpenKinect library. Then John Wu, another LabVIEW programmer, took things one step further building an example VI for 3D scene construction using the Kinect sensor and point clouds.

Download John’s example on his blog post: LabVIEW, Xbox Kinect, and 3D point cloud visualization

Thank you John and Ryan! This is the beginning of some incredible and exciting work!

DARPA Arm Robot Controlled via LabVIEW January 25, 2011

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By now, you’ve all heard of one of DARPA’s latest robotics projects, but just in case:

http://www.thearmrobot.com/

DARPA is introducing its Autonomous Robotic Manipulation  (ARM) program. The goal of this 4 year, multi-track program is to  develop software and hardware that allows an operator to control a robot  which is able to autonomously manipulate, grasp and perform complicated tasks,  given only high-level direction. Over the course of the program in the  Software Track, funded performers will be developing algorithms that  enables the DARPA robot to execute these numerous tasks. DARPA is also  making an identical robot available for public use, allowing anyone the  opportunity to write software, test it in simulation, upload it to the  actual system, and then watch, in real-time via the internet, as the  DARPA robot executes the user’s software. Teams involved in this  Outreach Track will be able to compete and collaborate with other teams  from around the country.

One of NI’s R&D engineers, Karl, has developed a LabVIEW wrapper for the DARPA arm simulator in his spare time and has graciously shared it on the NI Robotics Code Exchange (ni.com/code/robotics).

Using Karl’s code, you can directly control the arm simulator using LabVIEW. This means you develop your own control code and easily create UIs using LabVIEW’s graphical programming environment (two of the things LabVIEW is best for).

Check out Karl’s blog to request the code:

DARPA Arm Robot Controlled via LabVIEW

Open Source Project: Robot Swarm October 13, 2010

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We all know programming just one mobile robot with artificial intelligence is hard. So adding more robots and having them exhibit a collective behavior can increase the difficultly level exponentially. This is what makes swarm intelligence such hot topic in the world of robotics today.

During a National Instruments user conference, I saw a very impressive swarm demo from the NI Robotics R&D team:

Karl Muecke, the project lead, is now lifting the hood and opening up all of the build instructions and control code used to create his robot swarm. He starts will high level topics like hardware architectures, data communications, localization, driver station UI, obstacle avoidance and path planning, and then delves into the details in each area.

Check out the entire open source project on the NI Robotics Code Exchange and be sure to continue checking in, as he continually adds more pieces to puzzle.

NIWeek 2010 Robotic Swarm Demo

MiNI-HUBO Series: LabVIEW Driver for Dynamixel Motors July 9, 2010

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Recall Mini-Hubo, the small, humanoid research platform developed by RoMeLa. I had mentioned his joints are actuated by Robotis Dynamixel motors, high-performance networked actuators built specifically for robots.

Karl, our resident humanoid expert, has graciously shared the LabVIEW drivers that allow you to communicate with these robot-specific motors, plug-and-play style. Check out the LabVIEW Robotics Code Exchange to automatically download the driver and install it into LabVIEW. For anyone using Dynamixel motors for their own robot designs, this will save you lots of driver development time.

Download Dynamixel Motor Driver

Don’t have LabVIEW? You can check it out for free here.

Open Source LabVIEW Code: Humanoid Robot Walking Gait May 19, 2010

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This is the latest update to the MiNI Hubo series I started awhile back. You may recall the previouis video of MiNI Hubo walking, which used LabVIEW code that was simply playing back a recorded motion.

This video shows MiNI Hubo walking using a parametric gait generated dynamically and online:

And best of all, Karl Muecke, NI R&D engineer, is sharing all of the LabVIEW code that controls MiNI Hubo’s walking gait.

You can download the VIs and see how Karl designed the control code on the NI Robotics Code Exchange.

iPhone Controlled Car: More How-To Materials November 12, 2009

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So if you’ve been following the phenomenal DIY application that has made it to sites like Gizmodo and Cars.com, you might be interested in the detailed How-To docs that the guys behind this wicked-awesome app created. Just in case you haven’t checked out their blog (which you should!), here’s some of the technical materials they’ve shared with us:

  1. Technical Tutorial: Remotely Controlled Automobile – iPhone, Power Wheels, Laptop — Includes system overview as well as a grocery list of all the hardware used
  2. Technical White Paper: Use of Prototyping tools in the “Drive a Car with an iPhone” Video — Lists the software used to rapidly prototype the control system, including LabVIEW
  3. Open Source Code: Code for iPhone Controlled Car — Download the zip file that contains the LabVIEW project and all subVIs that they used in order to control the Oldsmobile with an iPhone, Power Wheels, and Laptop

And there’s plenty more tutorials they’ve created to help explain exactly how they did it. Check them out.