Are the new Windows 8 tablets with all their power and internal sensors the ultimate robot controllers? The first two articles in this series have demonstrated some of the reasons why we think they are.
This time, we will examine how a tablet-based robot
can utilize GPS and compass readings to navigate its way to
a specified area and then use its internal camera to
find an object of a specific color.
Even though all of the Windows 8 tablets we
researched have a bank of standard sensors
including a gyroscope, accelerometer,
magnetometer, ambient light detector, and at least
one camera, none currently have an internal GPS —
even though Windows 8 provides the software
interface for one.
Fortunately, there are many low cost USB GPS
units available such as the GlobalSat BU-353-S4
shown in Figure 1. Unfortunately, this unit — as
with many USB GPS devices — is not currently
recognized by the tablet sensor routines. With a
little research, however, we found a driver written
by Michael Chourdakis that solves this problem.
The driver can be downloaded from www.turbo
After the driver is installed, nearly any USB GPS
unit can be viewed as a standard tablet sensor
which means our Sensor Utility (see Part 1 of this
series) can acquire GPS coordinates whether your tablet has
an internal or external GPS.
All the examples in this article are written in
RobotBASIC — a free language that can be downloaded
from www.RobotBASIC.org. For those that might prefer a
different language, RobotBASIC’s pseudocode-like syntax
should minimize the effort needed for translation.
Last month, we examined two applications that demonstrated how the tilt
and compass sensors on a Windows 8 tablet can be used to control a
robot's behavior. This month, we will explore programming the robot to
navigate to a general destination using GPS and compass readings, and
then once there, to use images from the tablet's camera to find an object
of a specific color.
Windows 8 Tablets
By John Blankenship and Samuel Mishal Post comments on this article and find any
associated files and/or downloads at
58 SERVO 02.2014