Cartographer Launch!

Yesterday, a project at Google that I've been putting a lot of work into launched! You can read about it on the Google Lat Long blog and a few other places of note.

Cartographer is a backpack that uses SLAM to build maps of the world in real time. The operator can annotate the map on the fly as they explore and then the results wind up on Google Maps. While the pack may be funny looking, we still love it.


The backpack has a desktop-class computer, a couple multi-echo laser scanners (30m range and 270° FOV), and an IMU. The map is displayed and annotated on an Android tablet.

Here's one of the first maps we launched:


Some of the system is built on ROS and my previous work on rosjava. Using ROS has been invaluable, especially during the prototyping stage. Our SLAM stack, however, is all home grown to meet the demands of robust, real time mapping on a fast moving, unstable platform (i.e. the operator's back).

Is your Roomba running slow?

If your Roomba is getting slow in its old age, try cleaning the forward IR sensors.
  1. Remove the front bumper by backing out 10 or so small screws along the underside of the bumper. It should pop off easily. Be careful not to damage the wire harness. Disconnecting the harness is not necessary.
  2. Using canned air, blow out the dust from the entire inside of the bumper. Pay special attention to the IR sensors (they're the small LEDs).
  3. Reassemble and test.
Air dusting was sufficient for me. However, cleaning the surfaces with a little isopropyl alcohol probably wouldn't hurt.

This appears to be a common problem with a simple solution. HTH

Cloud Robotics at Devoxx 2012

I gave another talk about cloud robotics at Devoxx 2012 in Antwerp last month. This talk is Java developer focused and goes into more detail about ROS than the one at Berkeley. It also has more cool robot videos and a fun maze-solving-robot demo :)

I really liked the venue. Giving a presentation in front of a huge movie screen like that was pretty great.

The slides are available as a PDF.