FIGURE 17. Circuit board with
directly to the top of the plastic LIDAR cover, and run the
cables in line with the plastic supports.
Of course, the most obvious platform is to use the
NEATO hardware as-is, and to make changes in the onboard
firmware. The USB port provides access to the processor,
but at this time, the unit’s firmware and OS haven’t been
fully hacked. I expect this to change shortly. According to
the folks at NEATO, parts will be available soon — at
reasonable prices — and that’s a start.
teardown specimen and for
providing information on the
NEATO. Although schematics and
parts aren’t available at this time,
Neato Robotics is in the process of
setting up service centers.
For third-party information on
the NEATO, check out the write-up
at www.sparkfun.com. The
SparkFun folks have some
preliminary data on the LIDAR.
Details on the theory of operation
of the LIDAR are at www.robot
shop.com/content/PDF/revolds-whitepaper.pdf. The video at
v=bJVEFlbuFO4 is worth watching
– if only for inspiration on how to
mount a laptop to the LIDAR top with a few strips of
Velcro. It’s only a matter of time before someone writes an
iPad app to control the NEATO.
I’d like to thank Camp Peavy at Neato Robotics for the
As a cleaning appliance, the NEATO is well built, sturdy,
and — at least in my opinion — underemployed. Although
not marketed as an educational or hobby robot, it has a lot
going for it. It’s an excellent platform to investigate an
open source robot operating system that’s configured to
operate in the real world. With the robot operating system
driver, you can get laser scans, create maps, and navigate
to waypoints. And if you don’t really
need your floors cleaned, the ample
payload space can hold a variety of
sensors and processors – or even a
 Bergeron, B. Teardowns: Learn
how things work by taking them
apart. McGraw-Hill. 2010.
[ 2] Konolige, K, et. al. A Low-Cost
Laser Distance Sensor. 2008 IEEE
Intl Conference on Robotics and
Automation. Pasadena, CA.
46 SERVO 02.2012