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Boris Smus, a student at Carnegie Mellon, built this elegantly simple robot that uses a smartphone to interpret commands from Twitter.

A few projects around the internet use an Android phone to control the Lego Mindstorms NXT brick. Most involve an ugly hack in which the phone communicates with a computer over WiFi, and the computer (paired to the NXT through bluetooth) submits the command to the brick. These projects typically use Android as a remote control for the NXT robot, and not as part of the robot itself.

This project does just that, while eliminating the need for a computer in the loop, so that the Android directly communicates to the NXT. This allows for more powerful Android-powered NXT robots. As an example, I made a fully autonomous twitter-controlled robot. The NXT uses two motors to spin in place or move forward, and a third motor to control the tilt of a Android phone cradle. The Android phone keeps track of its orientation (compass heading and tilt), polls twitter search for new commands and sends commands to the NXT brick. After each command completes, the Android phone takes a picture and sends it to twitter. Any twitter user can look at the last few photos, decide which command makes sense to perform next, and issue it.

[Via The NXTStep]

John Baichtal

My interests include writing, electronics, RPGs, scifi, hackers & hackerspaces, 3D printing, building sets & toys. @johnbaichtal



  1. Ellen says:

    We’re high school students and for a school project we wanted to make a robot using Lego Mindstorms. We would really like to know how you made the device listen to your smartphone – is there some sort of app or (as we presume) did you write something yourself? And if you did, is there any chance we could take a peek at how you did this? We want to use the smartphone for getting the robot to send its exact locations to our computer and get it to go somewhere where it’s level, so I thought your program might come in handy. So, if you have some time and want to help out noob robotists, please reply! :)
    (Of course I know this is a very old article, but I thought I could at least try…)
    Ellen & Loes
    The Netherlands

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