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Thread: Humanoid or Johnny 5 for research

  1. #1
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    Humanoid or Johnny 5 for research

    Hi again. As you know I'm a soon to be CS grad student.

    I'm thinking of using a personal robot for some of my research. I've been thinking the Johnny 5. But maybe a Humanoid would be better?

    Can I ask for any thoughts on this?

    Here's my thoughts.

    The Johnny has mobility. It seems that it can move a lot further and maybe this would be good for vision type projects that involve terrain?

    The Humanoid may be good for research involving the dynamics of the human's movement?

    I've been thinking, rather dreamy like, that a nice home beowulf cluster would be a great way to have tons of computational ability with a robot. What do you think of that?

    As far as gripping goes, it seems both are fairly primitive right? Is the Johnny or the Humanoid expandable to include powerful gripping?

    Thanks!
    "Fear is the mind killer." - Dune

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    Re: Humanoid or Johnny 5 for research

    Here's my take on it:

    Humanoids of any sort are going to be limited by weight and balance issues. Unless you are going with a very large, custom bot, having arms with enough torque and DOF to manipulate objects is going to be very difficult. Most the hobby sized humanoids are good for developing walking, dancing, fighting etc sequences... with varying control methods.. but sensory and autonomy is ultimately going to be limited by their payload, which is limited. Don't get me wrong, I can't wait for the wife to give me the nod to drop a grand or so on a new humanoid bot... but I don't plan on adding a ton to it.

    The Johnny 5 model is not going to be as agile or flexible as a humanoid, but certainly more mobile by design. However, it has a ton of payload capability and a lot more room for expansion. For example, no way you'd ever implement a complete onboard PC on a hobby level humanoid bot, however this is easily done on the J5 model (wink wink, Project Page plug! ). I think Jim mentioned it has like a 6-7lb payload capacity?

    However, on the note of gripping... while its impractical on the hobby humanoids (most dont even come with grippers) it's still not well implemented on the stock johnny 5 model. The biggest problem is that the arms are far too short. I am currently working on redesigning them to make them longer, and adding another DOF in the elbow, and once that work is done, he should effectively be able to pick up objects from the ground using 1 or 2 hands. The stock model's hands barely reach his treads.

    If you have ANY questions regarding the johnny 5 model, feel free to ask, it's been my pet project for the past 3 months or so and I've spent more time planning and working on it then is healthy (or so my wife says)
    Last edited by DresnerRobotics; 01-10-2008 at 06:30 PM.

  3. #3

    Re: Humanoid or Johnny 5 for research

    Absolutely, just what Tyberius said. Humanoids are good for motion dynamics, but you are limited to what you can stack on it.

    Any rover, tracked or wheeled, has the ability to allow numerous devices, such as cameras of all sorts, PC boards like the nano or pico ITX boards, an array of sensors, and anything else you can think of. Rovers can handle a great deal of weight when compared to walkerbots and generally cheaper considering strong quality servos is the biggest part of the bill.

    With a rover type platform you will have plenty of programming opportunities.

  4. #4

    Re: Humanoid or Johnny 5 for research

    Yeah, legs are great, but wheels/tracks are the way to go.
    My Otto (J5 prototype) had arms long enough to reach the ground, but it also got in the way of the treads. His arms didn't have much strength, and the wiggle factor multiplied at each joint. I've pulled the arms and plan on going with extra sensors and WiFi. Flexibility!
    A humanoid bot is gonna fundamentally remain... a humanoid bot.

    One last thing:
    Robots with tracks or wheels don't readily fall over.

  5. Re: Humanoid or Johnny 5 for research

    BrainBot is a Johnny-5 type robot, and having tracks definitely makes it simpler to do certain kinds of research.

    Long arms are going to be an issue - when you make the arms longer, the shoulder servos are put under a lot more strain for lifting even simple items. We're going to be switching to using RX-64 servos in the shoulders, which provide a massive 800+ oz-in of torque. Hopefully that will make the arms more useful.

    - Jon

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    Re: Humanoid or Johnny 5 for research

    Quote Originally Posted by JonHylands View Post
    BrainBot is a Johnny-5 type robot, and having tracks definitely makes it simpler to do certain kinds of research.

    Long arms are going to be an issue - when you make the arms longer, the shoulder servos are put under a lot more strain for lifting even simple items. We're going to be switching to using RX-64 servos in the shoulders, which provide a massive 800+ oz-in of torque. Hopefully that will make the arms more useful.

    - Jon
    Yar, I'm going to be upgrading the two servos in each shoulder with 5955TG's when I do the elbow extensions. My wife is going to murder me.

  7. Re: Humanoid or Johnny 5 for research

    Note that my personal research robot, MicroRaptor, is a biped robot (not a humanoid though). I'm interested in walking, navigation, visual landmarking, and stuff like that.


    - Jon

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    Re: Humanoid or Johnny 5 for research

    I think you guys have given me some good information. Thank you!

    I like the mobility of Johnny. I think it would allow me to do some interesting vision problems and maybe some AI problems too.

    I think it's common to use the bluetooth control for the Johnny?

    Recently I've started to get froggy and I was thinking of trying to build my own beowulf cluster for a brain for my robots. Any thoughts on that?
    "Fear is the mind killer." - Dune

  9. Re: Humanoid or Johnny 5 for research

    Until you've written code that stretches the space and power available in a current high-spec PC (Core 2 Quad, 4 GB RAM), you're wasting your time with a cluster.

    Don't introduce hardware complexities to a problem until you absolutely need to...

    - Jon

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    Re: Humanoid or Johnny 5 for research

    Good advice Jon. I do have a Core 2 Duo with 4GB. So you're right, it'll take me some time to eat through that.

    Thanks again.
    "Fear is the mind killer." - Dune

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