Having a 21st century robot doesn't help if the control is like something designed to handle a model plane circa 1965. So iRobot has come up with something that is not only up to date, but also more intuitive, so operators can worry more about the job at hand than the robot used to complete it. The iRobot uPoint Multi-Robot Control (MRC) system is a universal control system for the company’s defense and security robots that combines a touchscreen interface with a mobile robotic radio relay.
The uPoint MRC system is designed to simplify robot operations by means of an intuitive touchscreen interface running an Android-based app that standardizes the control of any iRobot unmanned vehicle. iRobot says that the uPoint interface provides a virtual joystick for driving the robot, touch and drag capabilities, and a simple control for operating the robot’s arm and manipulator. In addition, the interface can display predicted paths to aid in getting past obstacles, and there’s an autonomous mode to allow the robot to drive itself.
The MRC system goes beyond being a tablet remote control. It can also share data with others – either remotely or in the immediate vicinity – swap control with others, record audio and video, and provides access to reference materials or emails.
The other half of the system is iRobot’s uPoint Robot Radio; a mobile radio relay that extends the range between the robot and the control unit. It can be sent in on its own power to maintain communications and control over longer distances, in built up areas, or inside buildings. According to iRobot, the Radio Robot uses frequency agility to switch automatically between congested radio bands.
"Success as a robot operator during high-stress, critical operations depends on precise and reliable control, so the interface needs to be intuitive," says Frank Wilson, senior vice president and general manager of iRobot's Defense & Security business unit. "We've leveraged decades of experience working with robot operators and held dozens of user focus groups to develop the uPoint MRC system. The uPoint MRC system drives mission effectiveness by decreasing training time and increasing overall ease of use. With uPoint, you point and the robot goes."
The video below outlines the features of the uPoint MRC system, which will be available next year.