Luxonis puts a powerful rolling robotics lab in your pocket
A Colorado-based computer vision company has launched a hackable, open-source roving robot called rae that packs AI processing and machine learning, depth-sensing cameras, app control and fun RGB lighting into a pint-sized package designed "for every age, and every skill level."
Founded in 2019, Luxonis has so far focused on developing high-res OAK camera systems with built-in depth sensing and AI processing. Now that stereo vision tech has been packed into an open-source rolling robot called rae – which stands for robotics access for everyone – and launched on Kickstarter.
"rae is representative of our foremost goal at Luxonis: to make robotics accessible and simple for anyone, not just the tenured engineer with years of programming experience," said company CEO, Brandon Gilles. "A longstanding truth about robotics is that the barrier to entry sometimes feels impossibly high, but it doesn’t have to be that way. By creating rae, we want to help demonstrate the kinds of positive impacts robotics can bring to all people's lives, whether it's as simple as helping you find your keys, talking with your friend who uses American Sign Language, or playing with your kids."
Robot rae measures 4.75 x 4.75 x 1.3 in (120 x 120 x 32 mm) and weighs in at 14 oz (400 g), and comes with two motor-driven wheels (with encoders) under its durable metal housing balanced out by two free-rolling wheels to the front. And despite its diminutive proportions, it's reported capable of rolling over multiple surface types, including carpet, wood floor, tiles, grass and gravel.
RGB LED lighting runs around rae's bottom edge for some funky programmable visuals, it sports a Sony IMX214 4K camera module in front for streaming hi-res video plus a LCD display that can be user-programmed via a companion app. Luxonis has also included its OAK stereo camera system in the shape of two forward-facing OV9782 sensors and two more around back.
The system combines machine learning and computer vision technology in one unit, and boasts Robotic Vision Core 3 processing supported by 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are onboard as well, there's an array of six microphones for voice interaction plus an integrated 1-W speaker, and rae is powered by a 5,000-mAh Li-Po battery for around an hour's use between charging.
It's ready to use as soon as it's charged up and paired with a smartphone running the mobile app, which gives access to control functions, settings and a database, as well as cooked-in applications for playing games, problem solving tasks and a host of functions like locating objects, room mapping, emotion recognition, time-lapse recording and even sign language interpretation.
The ROS 2 (Robot Operating System) platform comes pre-installed and preconfigured for access to its libraries and tools. Users can also create their own apps and models to get rae to perform custom tasks, or equip the robot with additional hardware and accessories, and they get access to the company's cloud platform for online learning, community collaborations, download/install of user-created apps and more.
With four successful Kickstarters under its belt, Luxonis has returned to the crowdfunding portal to fund production of rae, where pledges currently start at US$399. If all goes to plan with the already funded campaign, shipping is estimated to start in June 2023. The video below has more.