Published: 27th July 2019
This humanoid robot built by KLE University students can provide assistance to the senior citizens when they are home alone
Karthik Holeyannavar, Akshay DR and Subramanya Gaonkar, from the Department of Automation and Robotics Engineering, were guided by Prof Arun Giriyapur for this project
Robots have always fascinated humans with their unique functions and intelligence. Take Isaac Azimov's literary work for instance. The prolific Russian author wrote a large number of Sci-Fi novels all through his career, from the early 1940s to the 80s, many of which inspired popular Hollywood movies like I, Robot and Bicentennial Man. With the advance in technology and software languages, humanoid robots are trending today. From providing entertainment to helping those in distress, these humanoid robots can do almost anything one expects. In fact, it is common knowledge that we are not too far away from a time when these robots will become an integral part of our lives and will be treated as a member of the family. Two months ago, three engineering students of KLE Technological University, Hubballi, were successful in building one such humanoid robot as part of their final-year project and they called it Ajit 2.0.
Karthik Holeyannavar, Akshay DR and Subramanya Gaonkar, from the Department of Automation and Robotics Engineering, were guided by Prof Arun Giriyapur for this project. The trio spent over 12 hours every day for a period of 11 months to build this stunning humanoid robot. While Karthik worked on the wiring, vision, voice and intelligence of the robot, Akshay worked on its movement via legs and Subramanya designed the body of this innovative robot. Karthik says, "We started this project in September 2018, earlier than all the other students because we presented the same at one of the Global Expo in South Korea recently. People, especially kids, were shocked to see a humanoid robot sing and dance to popular Korean songs. We spent around Rs 12 lakh to complete the project and all the expenses were borne by the University. But before Ajit 2.0 was Ajit 1.0 and it moved around on wheels. There were minimum functions added to it and it did not communicate with anyone. Ajit 1.0 could only say three words - Hi, Namaste, Bye. We decided to give the new version legs to move, more functions such that it can do more work and communicate better, and provide all kinds of information."
Superstar: Ajit 2.0 was the only robot to be represented in a Global Expo 2019 held in South Korea
This tech-packed robot
In order for Ajit 2.0 to recognise people and store them in its memory, the team has used the Intel Real Sense Camera D435. It consists of four 3D cameras - two cameras that are used to project the object and receive the input, one camera that is used to judge the distance of the subject or object, and another that is a normal camera to capture images. For now, Ajit 2.0 recognises the faces of its makers and some of the college staff as they are stored in its memory. Explaining the innovative features added, Karthik says, "The robot has a feature called SLAM Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping. This facilitates the robot to remember the different places in a college or a house. For example, Ajit 2.0 can tell you the location of the kitchen, bedroom or living room in a house once these details have been saved in its memory. The entire robot and its functions are all based on the Robot Operating System (ROS). Through this, it can also calculate bigger and more complicated mathematical problems in a few seconds. Ajit 2.0 can also provide information on any topic and give current news happening around the world. But all this information can be given only if it is connected to WiFi."
But this robot can perform some predefined actions without the use of the internet. For example, Ajit 2.0 can store in its memory ones tea or lunch timings. So if they want to know if it's time for tea, the robot will be able to tell them. It can even dance and sing as the trio has stored some Bollywood songs in its memory. "We built the robot to be used specially by senior citizens. Usually, elders who are home alone tend to forget to take their medicines. Ajit 2.0 reminds the person. We have also fed in some emergency numbers of relatives and nearby hospitals and doctors into its memory. If the person falls sick, then Ajit 2.0 can make a call to any of these numbers. To provide entertainment, we have installed a system called Next Unit Computing or a mini-computer. After returning from South Korea, we went one step ahead to programme Ajit 2.0 such that it can be used in restaurants and banks as well."
Hello my friend: His name is Ajit 2.0, weight is 15 kgs and height is 100 centimetres and the operating system used is Linux Ubuntu Version 16.04
Challenges are aplenty
But as we know, nothing this big comes without challenges. According to Karthik, there were several challenges when they started building the robot. "There is no open-source robot for us to learn the software or coding process from. Installing SLAM took a lot of time as we were new to it. Designing the legs for Ajit 2.0 was another challenge. The availability of motors to be installed in the legs was limited in the market and we had to wait for several days to install them. I would divide the robot's walking ability into three stages - just walking, good walking and rapid walking. Ajit 2.0 has just started walking. It can walk if you hold its hand and walk along. 'Good walking' would mean that it can walk without anybody's help. And 'rapid walking' would mean that the robot can jump and run independently," explains Karthik.
Karthik, Akshay and Subramanya graduated from college a month ago and are all set to take the next step in their lives. While Karthik has been placed in Infosys Mysuru and Subramanya in TCS, Akshay will be pursuing his higher studies. And what will happen to Ajit 2.0? "Currently, our juniors are working to upgrade Ajit 2.0's stage of walking. They are also working to add more intelligence to the robot so that it can give information to people without using the internet," says Karthik.
Functions it can perform:
Its hands are used to make various gestures like greeting people. It can also lift light objects (in grams)
Its head can rotate up to 270 degrees and it has cameras to help it recognise people
Its legs and wheels help with the aspect of locomotion
Dynamixel plays a key role in the robot's intelligence and it is more like the brain