A group of computer scientists from Brown were at the
The coding marathon, known in the computer science vernacular as a hackathon, was a partnership between
Jenkins' lab builds user interfaces that can control robots of all kinds with an off-the-shelf web browser. The system can be adapted for even the most complex robots, and
As it is now, R2 can be controlled only from computers with specialized software that can communicate with R2's operating system. The interface Jenkins and his team are developing creates a software bridge that enables a web browser to communicate with that operating system. That means all of the R2's complex capabilities could be accessed from virtually any computer or even from tablets.
The goal of last week's hackathon was to lay the groundwork for the project. Jenkins was joined at the hackathon by research scientist
"Before the hackathon started we only had a first pass of a web interface," Raiti said. "But by the end we were able to demonstrate through simulation a working interface for control of the Robonaut 2."
By simulation, Raiti is referring to a virtual version of R2 that runs on a computer server. Operating the real thing comes later.
There are currently two R2s, one aboard the
"The hackathon also gave me an opportunity to meet more people involved with robotics, as we worked alongside several
He and his fellow hackers churned out thousands of lines of code during the week. The group was pleased with what they were able to accomplish.
"Most of the work I did at the hackathon revolved around setting up the basic structure to enable communication between our [browser-based] front-end and the back-end server on which robot code actually runs," Wong said. "We made good progress at the hackathon, but there's still a good amount of work to be done before the web interface is fully functional."
Wong said he looks forward to continuing his work on the project when school starts again.
For Jenkins, the R2 project is part of a broader effort to make robots more accessible to more people. His lab has already designed web interfaces that can control the PR2 household assistance robot, quadricopter drones, and other devices.
"The idea is that we want to be able to make robots available to everybody in the world through the Internet, using the web browser," Jenkins said. "This is our way of getting robots out of the lab and into the world."
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