C4DI is host to a Hardware Meetup every couple of weeks for like-minded techies to get together and talk Internet of Things, embedded devices and anything else hardware that takes their fancy. For the last few months they’ve also been working on projects around the HullPixelbot, which is an open source mobile robot designed to be cheap to make and fun to play with. Once you have the 3D printed chassis you only need to add around £10 worth of electronics to create a fully functional robot.
Several of the group have built their own robots and one member, Rob Miles, has been using the little bots as the basis of presentations at Microsoft technical conferences. A HullPixelbot can be controlled by different micro-controllers and Rob has been using a device which lets them connect to Microsoft Azure servers via an on-board WiFi connection. During the last month delegates at Microsoft TechDays in Amsterdam and Future Decoded in London have seen demonstrations of robots controlled by commands generated by Azure programs running in the cloud. Rob has also gone one better, and created a ChatBot (also running in the cloud) which lets users control the robots from communications programs such as Skype and Slack. He even demonstrated this by having 120 delegates at a TechDays sending multiple commands to a pair of racing robots, which went down a treat as can be seen in the picture below!
The HullPixelbot is entirely open source, and plans are afoot to put all the designs and programs on GitHub. As for future projects, Rob is interested in venturing into the world of art. By getting around 100 HullPixelbots together, he hopes to be able to control the colours of the pixels to make some unique, but beautiful artwork. You can find out all about the project, and how you can get involved, at www.hullpixelbot.com, and feel free to come along to any of the hardware meetups!