There are robots that walk around like spiders, there are robots that avoid objects, and there are robots that talk, but what about a robot spider that talks while avoiding objects? Hobbyist Kevin Ochs’ creation, Charlotte, is just that. Charlotte is a hexapod robot with a talking head that lets it narrate its progress as it avoids collisions.
Charlotte is an in-progress project started by Ochs as a way of brushing up on his C++ programming skills. It began life a commercially available robot kit sold by Trossen Robotics that Ochs equipped with a brain in the form of a Raspberry Pi overclocked to 1000Mhz running on C++ with custom coding.
The head is made from an Asus Xtion Pro Live for motion sensing, hearing and vision. It turns using servos in the neck. Because of the cameras, the robot’s walking algorithm had to be modified to provide more stability. As a bonus, Charlotte can narrate its progress using an eSpeaks speech synthesizer running bespoke software. In addition, it has a head-up display running on an iPad or desktop computer with three three vision options: color, infrared and depth.
Charlotte has its problems, such as only being able to detect collisions in the middle of its field of view when turning, due to its legs getting in the way. However, since this is a work in progress, it may be addressed as Ochs continues to update the software
The video below shows Charlotte in action.