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iPhone Apps for Your Manufacturing Robots

October 10th, 2013

The robust iOS app marketplace features a host of programs that serve as remote controls for your home theater system using an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, but what about controlling a robot? ¬†Well, students of Dr. Vikram Kapila, professor of mechanical engineering at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University, are working on two apps allowing the control of a manufacturing robot with a mere swipe or pinch on an iPhone’s touchscreen.

Now that’s something a bit cooler than merely playing Angry Birds or Candy Crush Saga on a smartphone!

One App to Control a Robot Arm; One App to Control a Mobile Robot

Kapila and his student team are currently working on two apps — iLabArm and iLabBot — that control a robotic arm and mobile robot respectively. iLabArm leverages both the touchscreen of an iOS device as well as its accelerometer to move the robotic arm by command. Dr. Kapila commented on the overall project goals: “Our goal was to take advantage of an iPhone’s or iPod’s touchscreen to create an intuitive interface for interacting with physical devices such as robotic manipulators, mobile robots, and also our own control lab experiments.”

iLabBot also uses the touchscreen. In this case, when a user taps on a mapped location on the touchscreen, the mobile robot — in this case a Roomba-like device built using a kit from iRobot themselves — moves to that location. One of the challenges for the project team was being able to receive telemetry data from either robot, which was solved by using Arduino microcontrollers equipped with WiFi capable shielding.

There remains little doubt that the innovative work being pioneered by Dr. Kapila and his students have the potential to influence the world of manufacturing and more. It sure beats using an iPhone only for casual game playing!

If you want to work on new innovations like tablet and smartphone controlled robots, talk to the engineering staffing experts at The Talley Group. Since they are one of the top engineering recruiting companies in the Seattle area, they are surely able to help advance your career by robotic leaps and bounds.

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