Imagine a completely customizable robot with selectable software options. Buy one component, and it will take care of your lawn. Buy another one and it will clean your toilets. With a third one, it will pick up UPS or FedEx deliveries on your porch. If you are taking some vacation, another piece of software will transform this robot into a personal guard. Prototypes of such a revolutionary robot, dubbed AgBot, have been developed by Louisiana State University (LSU). 'It is solar-powered and can move as fast as six miles per hour for a minimum time span of four hours. With artificial intelligence, Bluetooth, and advanced GPS systems, the AgBot is a problem-solving robot.' According to the LSU team, you might see a commercial version of this robot in about five years. Read more...
This customizable robot has been developed at the LSU's Robotics Research Laboratory led by Dr.S.S.Iyengar, chair of the Department of Computer Science. You can see above, from left to right, Jong Hoon Kim, S.S. Iyengar, Bharat Narahari and Suman Kumar, preparing the AgBot prototype for a demonstration. Here is a link to a larger version.
Here are some details provided by The Daily Reveille, written and published by LSU students. "'What we are imagining is, about five years down the line, suppose if you want to do a toilet cleaning job ... buy a module and fit it inside the AgBot so it will clean your toilet,' said Iyengar . 'And if you are out on a vacation for a month, and you need to guard and protect your house, so you go to some robot store, buy a security module, and just place it in the AgBot, so you have a full feature intrusion detection robot.' Iyengar compared the robot to a cell phone. He said 10 years ago, a cell phone would just make calls, but today it has many different features. In the same way, he said, the AgBot is just a prototype that will be expanded to provide many functions as it is developed."
This robot should be cheap to produce. In fact, it didn't cost a lot to be developed. "'All of it is built here,' said Iyengar. 'And the very interesting thing is, [it was built] for probably a price of $2,000.' The AgBot is being prepared for the commercial market, Iyengar said. 'We have proven the concept,' he said. 'We have applied for patents, so now it is going to be ready for execution.'"
For more information, you might want to read this LSU news release, "Protect Your Home and Maintain Your Lawn With LSU's Revolutionary AgBot" (November 17, 2008). Here is what the AgBot could do for your lawn. "AgBot uses its autonomous, advanced GPS system to plot out the coordinates of your yard and map out its path. Once done, it never has to be repeated unless you move. With a high-tech sensory identification system, there’s no danger of AgBot damaging itself or running into structures in your lawn."
Bharat Narahari, one of the AgBot's creators, defended his Masters thesis -- named Modeling and Design of Low cost Customizable Household Robot -- on October 23, 2008. Here are some of his comments about the AgBot taking care of your lawn. "'This is truly a new, revolutionary way to maintain the perfect lawn,' said Narahari. 'Its high torque auger with adjustable drill depth and motor speeds takes only 40 seconds per planting.' Also, its fertilizer system is designed to avoid inconsistent dispersal that causes lawn burn. 'In fact, the Agbot is so exceptional that several of these small robots, with support from a human maintenance crew, are perfectly capable of keeping golf courses at their best condition,' said Narahari."
As I wrote above, the AgBot is really multi-functional. It could easily become your home guard. "Each night, the robot can take on the duties of an advanced security system paired with the shock value of a raging guard dog. AgBot will protect your home while you sleep comfortably through the night. AgBot is equipped with a night vision camera positioned atop a 360 degree swivel. It has a high-frequency alarm system and advanced motion detector that allows you to select the level of sensitivity the robot has to movement. If AgBot detects motion, it will immediately sound the alarm, photograph the intruder and even instantaneously e-mail you the picture."
Finally, here is a link to a short video about the AgBot.
Sources: Ellen Zielinski, The Daily Reveille, LSU's student newspaper, November 23, 2008; and various websites
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