Welcome!

Java IoT Authors: Roger Strukhoff, Elizabeth White, Scott Allen, Kevin Benedict, Sematext Blog

Related Topics: Java IoT

Java IoT: Article

MAX: A Java-Based Personal Robot Platform

MAX: A Java-Based Personal Robot Platform

When you mention the word "robot," most people think of either large industrial bots that do heavy work on factory floors, suicidal bots doing battle on TV, fanciful R&D bots gracing the labs of universities, or simple hobby bots of the LEGO Mindstorms ilk. Don't get me wrong, all such creations are deeply fascinating to me and embody tremendous ingenuity and engineering craftsmanship. However, I want a robot that I can make do a variety of things around the house or place of business, one that won't cost a small fortune and is flexible and evolvable enough that I'm not stuck with a robot constrained to accomplishing a single task. Essentially, I want something that doesn't exist. I want the "Personal Robot."

Despite what may have been perceived as blind fantasy, a few years ago I set about pursuing the construction of a personal robot. I had a formal background in all of the requisite engineering skills including robotics and AI, but they were festering on my brain's vines of unused knowledge. My years spent doing work that actually generates rather than consumes money thrust me into the world of more commercially viable enterprise technologies and products. However, I began to see more and more of a possibility of fusing the commercial-grade work I was doing with my robotics R&D to yield a robotics platform that was cheap yet sophisticated. I wouldn't need to mortgage my house to buy a platform that only the wealthiest of companies or agencies could afford, and I wouldn't be stuck with a constrained hobby bot that could maybe flicker a few lights and fall down the stairs. Instead, I'd commence building a platform that was based on open source and commercial-grade products, be able to integrate with an assortment of underlying useful mechanical hardware components, and provide myself with an open sandbox and playground in which I could develop a wide variety of robotics apps.

I scrambled to give this platform a name and requisite acronym and could only muster the three letters M-A-X. MAX stands for Mobile Autonomous X-Bot. The mobile and autonomous part should be obvious, but the X-Bot represents the fact that the bot would be a generic platform atop of which I could do cool things. X is a variable. Get it? Just plug whatever application you want into the MAX platform and that is what X becomes. Armed with a name and an acronym, I was ready to crank up the R&D a notch and began forming a company around said efforts.

There is a plethora of hardware components on the market useable in robots ranging from the capriciously cheap to the stylishly pricey. To create MAX in such a way that would make it easy to work with this varied hardware, we defined a Java-based abstraction layer to interface with such devices. This was a key design feature since as you create or load different robotics applications into MAX, you may also require different robotics hardware to support your application. Our design thus called for plug-and-playability achieved by either custom configuration of a few generic drivers or by creating drivers specific to the hardware device being utilized.

As a Java zealot, everything I aim to do is in Java. If I could Java-enable my nose-hair trimmer, I'd do it. Blind loyalty to programming languages aside, I naturally think there are genuinely good reasons for using Java to build robotics applications. Apart from its simplicity as well as operating system (OS) and computing hardware independence, the wide range of built-in, commercial, and open source tools readily available make it an attractive and low-cost platform for cranking out robotics apps. Thus, we were hell-bent to try and use a standard J2SE runtime operating on Linux (or any other OS) running on a standard CPU for our underlying platform. In fact, this standard JOC (i.e., Java-OS-CPU) platform is indeed the only platform required by MAX for a wide range of robotics applications.

With a standard JOC platform, MAX communicates with external robotics hardware devices via Java-based interfaces to standard parallel, serial, and USB computer ports. For certain devices like digital cameras, the physical connectivity is easy since most cameras plug directly into a USB port. To interface with certain other sensor and actuator types, such as IR sensors and DC motor-driven wheeled bases, a few extremely simple and low-cost hardware connectors are used to bridge between standard computer ports and external robotics hardware.

For certain sensors and actuators, a more real-time interfacing approach is required; a standard JOC platform won't cut it here. Hence our MAX design required an augmentation to work with a J2ME-based, real-time Java embedded JOC platform. A few reasonably priced platforms on the market exist with some even built around the aJile Java-based processor core executing Java instructions in hardware.

For a certain range of applications, the embedded JOC platform and MAX profile will be all that is needed to perform a variety of basic robot functions. For other applications, a standard JOC platform and MAX profile will be required for more sophisticated applications that perhaps require access to large amounts of persisted data or communication with multiple distributed services, or need to implement more complex planning algorithms. Yet another alternative is to use a standard JOC MAX profile for the more complex data, communication, and planning operations and leverage use of the embedded JOC MAX profile for the sense-actuate functionality inside the same physical bot.

The MAX software and hardware bridges are designed with maximum flexibility for allowing a choice of underlying hardware while providing open and configurable interfaces for building robotics applications that use and drive such hardware. While a growing suite of MAX components is being built and prototyped with a mixture of hardware devices, the real test will come when we start shipping MAX hobbyist and developer's kits. Only then will we all see what sort of community grows to extend MAX and satisfy the "X equals to" equation, making bots and applications that do things we've always dreamed of and have yet to dream of doing for ourselves and organizations in an open, extremely low-cost, and constraintless fashion.

More Stories By Paul Perrone

Paul J. Perrone is an architect, author, and speaker on Java, J2EE, and XML via Assured Technologies, Inc. (www.assuredtech.com). Paul founded Assured Technologies in 1998 and has more recently founded Perrone Robotics, Inc., to focus attention on the vertical space of software for robotics.

Comments (2) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
Eric Bresie 04/29/04 09:23:28 AM EDT

Not sure if it gives you any more details but I found reference about it on Perrone Robotics website. Might want to email him directly.

Srini Karlekar 04/07/04 03:57:08 PM EDT

Are there any weblinks or downloads available to play around with software and drivers?

@ThingsExpo Stories
IoT is fundamentally transforming the auto industry, turning the vehicle into a hub for connected services, including safety, infotainment and usage-based insurance. Auto manufacturers – and businesses across all verticals – have built an entire ecosystem around the Connected Car, creating new customer touch points and revenue streams. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Macario Namie, Head of IoT Strategy at Cisco Jasper, will share real-world examples of how IoT transforms the car from a static p...
Fifty billion connected devices and still no winning protocols standards. HTTP, WebSockets, MQTT, and CoAP seem to be leading in the IoT protocol race at the moment but many more protocols are getting introduced on a regular basis. Each protocol has its pros and cons depending on the nature of the communications. Does there really need to be only one protocol to rule them all? Of course not. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, walk you through how Oct...
Web Real-Time Communication APIs have quickly revolutionized what browsers are capable of. In addition to video and audio streams, we can now bi-directionally send arbitrary data over WebRTC's PeerConnection Data Channels. With the advent of Progressive Web Apps and new hardware APIs such as WebBluetooh and WebUSB, we can finally enable users to stitch together the Internet of Things directly from their browsers while communicating privately and securely in a decentralized way.
"My role is working with customers, helping them go through this digital transformation. I spend a lot of time talking to banks, big industries, manufacturers working through how they are integrating and transforming their IT platforms and moving them forward," explained William Morrish, General Manager Product Sales at Interoute, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
The Internet of Things can drive efficiency for airlines and airports. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Sudip Majumder, senior director of development at Oracle, will discuss the technical details of the connected airline baggage and related social media solutions. These IoT applications will enhance travelers' journey experience and drive efficiency for the airlines and the airports. The session will include a working demo and a technical d...
Why do your mobile transformations need to happen today? Mobile is the strategy that enterprise transformation centers on to drive customer engagement. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Roger Woods, Director, Mobile Product & Strategy – Adobe Marketing Cloud, covered key IoT and mobile trends that are forcing mobile transformation, key components of a solid mobile strategy and explored how brands are effectively driving mobile change throughout the enterprise.
Developing software for the Internet of Things (IoT) comes with its own set of challenges. Security, privacy, and unified standards are a few key issues. In addition, each IoT product is comprised of (at least) three separate application components: the software embedded in the device, the back-end service, and the mobile application for the end user’s controls. Each component is developed by a different team, using different technologies and practices, and deployed to a different stack/target –...
Identity is in everything and customers are looking to their providers to ensure the security of their identities, transactions and data. With the increased reliance on cloud-based services, service providers must build security and trust into their offerings, adding value to customers and improving the user experience. Making identity, security and privacy easy for customers provides a unique advantage over the competition.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management solutions, helping companies worldwide activate their data to drive more value and business insight and to transform moder...
SYS-CON Events has announced today that Roger Strukhoff has been named conference chair of Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo 2016 Silicon Valley. The 19th Cloud Expo and 6th @ThingsExpo will take place on November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. "The Internet of Things brings trillions of dollars of opportunity to developers and enterprise IT, no matter how you measure it," stated Roger Strukhoff. "More importantly, it leverages the power of devices and the Interne...
Personalization has long been the holy grail of marketing. Simply stated, communicate the most relevant offer to the right person and you will increase sales. To achieve this, you must understand the individual. Consequently, digital marketers developed many ways to gather and leverage customer information to deliver targeted experiences. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lou Casal, Founder and Principal Consultant at Practicala, discussed how the Internet of Things (IoT) has accelerated our abil...
Digital innovation is the next big wave of business transformation based on digital technologies of which IoT and Big Data are key components, For example: Business boundary innovation is a challenge to excavate third-party business value using IoT and BigData, like Nest Business structure innovation may propose re-building business structure from scratch, as Uber does in the taxicab industry The social model innovation is also a big challenge to the new social architecture with the design fr...
If you had a chance to enter on the ground level of the largest e-commerce market in the world – would you? China is the world’s most populated country with the second largest economy and the world’s fastest growing market. It is estimated that by 2018 the Chinese market will be reaching over $30 billion in gaming revenue alone. Admittedly for a foreign company, doing business in China can be challenging. Often changing laws, administrative regulations and the often inscrutable Chinese Interne...
So, you bought into the current machine learning craze and went on to collect millions/billions of records from this promising new data source. Now, what do you do with them? Too often, the abundance of data quickly turns into an abundance of problems. How do you extract that "magic essence" from your data without falling into the common pitfalls? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Natalia Ponomareva, Software Engineer at Google, provided tips on how to be successful in large scale machine learning...
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kausik Sridharabalan, founder and CTO of Pulzze Systems, Inc., will focus on key challenges in building an Internet of Things solution infrastructure. He will shed light on efficient ways of defining interactions within IoT solutions, leading to cost and time reduction. He will also introduce ways to handle data and how one can develop IoT solutions that are lean, flexible and configurable, thus making IoT infrastructure agile and scalable.
Data is an unusual currency; it is not restricted by the same transactional limitations as money or people. In fact, the more that you leverage your data across multiple business use cases, the more valuable it becomes to the organization. And the same can be said about the organization’s analytics. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bill Schmarzo, CTO for the Big Data Practice at EMC, will introduce a methodology for capturing, enriching and sharing data (and analytics) across the organizati...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Bsquare has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For more than two decades, Bsquare has helped its customers extract business value from a broad array of physical assets by making them intelligent, connecting them, and using the data they generate to optimize business processes.
Internet of @ThingsExpo has announced today that Chris Matthieu has been named tech chair of Internet of @ThingsExpo 2016 Silicon Valley. The 6thInternet of @ThingsExpo will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, wh...
Video experiences should be unique and exciting! But that doesn’t mean you need to patch all the pieces yourself. Users demand rich and engaging experiences and new ways to connect with you. But creating robust video applications at scale can be complicated, time-consuming and expensive. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Zohar Babin, Vice President of Platform, Ecosystem and Community at Kaltura, will discuss how VPaaS enables you to move fast, creating scalable video experiences that reach your...