Controlling a Hexapod Robot with an iPhone or Droid Phone (video)

Let me see, I'll just send out this text message and oh, I know, I'll tell my robot to kill all humans...

The insect like Heximotional robot is amazing to watch, especially when it’s playing video games. Developed by Robert Stephenson of University of the West of England, the six legged robot can actually be controlled via Bluetooth. This allows Stephenson to operate the bot using his own software developed for the HTC Hero phone. Not content with one just one type of smart phone, Stephenson can also control Heximotional by routing commands from an iPhone App (again his own design) through the HTC Hero via WiFi. Want some more degrees of separation? He can even use this setup to play a game of Modern Warfare 2 on the PS3 remotely through the hexapod robot. You’ve got to see this in action, check out the video below:

I’m always impressed when robot developers find innovative ways of controlling their creations. Sure, we’ve seen the smart phone operating trick before, but routing an iPhone through a Droid phone is a neat and resourceful variation. The control system Stephenson developed for the Heximotional looks to be very precise, with individual controls for lead legs. That’s very useful when you want to move a PS3 analog controller. The bot is more than just a fancy controlling system, however. Stephenson developed Heximotional while at UWE and won an award in 2009 for its design. Not bad.

Hexapods are a standard of robotics. They allow for stability, mobility, and great payload capacity. There are several  online hexapod robotics groups, any of which are likely to mention the Heximotional. Stephenson drew inspiration for the project from other UWE work, and from the IC Hexapod (which it greatly resembles). While hexapods often resemble insects, I don’t consider them to be true biomimics like other robots we’ve seen. That’s because they rarely move like real insects, or contain many nature-inspired features beyond six legs. Still, these robots are a great platform for many different applications, and with a thriving hexapod community we’re likely to see many more of them. Hopefully they’ll get better at playing Modern Warfare.

[screen capture and video credit: Robert Stephenson aka Blobbingtonsmithe]
[source: Blobbingtonsmithe channel, UWE]

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