At the Bay Area Maker Faire, we saw one of the coolest autonomous robots ever: Rhoeby, a navigation-capable hexapod. While the robot is built from a customized version of a standard ROBOTIS Bioloid “spider” kit, the real magic behind Rhoeby is the LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) system.
LIDAR systems work in a similar fashion to radar. The system sends out a pulse of light that bounces off of an object and comes back. The LIDAR system measures the time between sending and receiving the light, from which it derives the distance to the object.
Built by John Jordan of Rhoeby Dynamics, the 2-dimensional LIDAR system that Rhoeby uses is the “smallest, lightest, and lowest cost LIDAR on the market.” While it’s not quite available for purchase yet, John anticipates that it will retail for approximately $350.
Using the custom LIDAR, and the map-building capabilities of the robot’s provided operating system, Rhoeby is able to map its environment, move around autonomously, and dynamically avoid any obstacles it encounters. With such a low-cost entry-level LIDAR system, there’s never been a better time to build autonomous robots.
For more information on the Rhoeby hexapod robot kit, or to preorder the Rhoeby LIDAR scanner, visit the Rhoeby Dynamics website.