Click here to close now.




















Welcome!

Java IoT Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Mike Kavis, Pat Romanski, Don MacVittie

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
SYS-CON Events announced today that HPM Networks will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For 20 years, HPM Networks has been integrating technology solutions that solve complex business challenges. HPM Networks has designed solutions for both SMB and enterprise customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
For IoT to grow as quickly as analyst firms’ project, a lot is going to fall on developers to quickly bring applications to market. But the lack of a standard development platform threatens to slow growth and make application development more time consuming and costly, much like we’ve seen in the mobile space. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Weiner, Product Manager of the Omega DevCloud with KORE Telematics Inc., discussed the evolving requirements for developers as IoT matures and conducted a live demonstration of how quickly application development can happen when the need to comply wit...
The Internet of Everything (IoE) brings together people, process, data and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before – transforming information into knowledge and knowledge into wisdom. IoE creates new capabilities, richer experiences, and unprecedented opportunities to improve business and government operations, decision making and mission support capabilities.
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Red Hat's Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems, described how to revolutionize your archit...
MuleSoft has announced the findings of its 2015 Connectivity Benchmark Report on the adoption and business impact of APIs. The findings suggest traditional businesses are quickly evolving into "composable enterprises" built out of hundreds of connected software services, applications and devices. Most are embracing the Internet of Things (IoT) and microservices technologies like Docker. A majority are integrating wearables, like smart watches, and more than half plan to generate revenue with APIs within the next year.
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Opening Keynote at 16th Cloud Expo, Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, d...
In his keynote at 16th Cloud Expo, Rodney Rogers, CEO of Virtustream, discussed the evolution of the company from inception to its recent acquisition by EMC – including personal insights, lessons learned (and some WTF moments) along the way. Learn how Virtustream’s unique approach of combining the economics and elasticity of the consumer cloud model with proper performance, application automation and security into a platform became a breakout success with enterprise customers and a natural fit for the EMC Federation.
The Internet of Things is not only adding billions of sensors and billions of terabytes to the Internet. It is also forcing a fundamental change in the way we envision Information Technology. For the first time, more data is being created by devices at the edge of the Internet rather than from centralized systems. What does this mean for today's IT professional? In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed this very serious issue of profound change in the industry.
Discussions about cloud computing are evolving into discussions about enterprise IT in general. As enterprises increasingly migrate toward their own unique clouds, new issues such as the use of containers and microservices emerge to keep things interesting. In this Power Panel at 16th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the state of cloud computing today, and what enterprise IT professionals need to know about how the latest topics and trends affect their organization.
It is one thing to build single industrial IoT applications, but what will it take to build the Smart Cities and truly society-changing applications of the future? The technology won’t be the problem, it will be the number of parties that need to work together and be aligned in their motivation to succeed. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jason Mondanaro, Director, Product Management at Metanga, discussed how you can plan to cooperate, partner, and form lasting all-star teams to change the world and it starts with business models and monetization strategies.
Converging digital disruptions is creating a major sea change - Cisco calls this the Internet of Everything (IoE). IoE is the network connection of People, Process, Data and Things, fueled by Cloud, Mobile, Social, Analytics and Security, and it represents a $19Trillion value-at-stake over the next 10 years. In her keynote at @ThingsExpo, Manjula Talreja, VP of Cisco Consulting Services, discussed IoE and the enormous opportunities it provides to public and private firms alike. She will share what businesses must do to thrive in the IoE economy, citing examples from several industry sectors.
There will be 150 billion connected devices by 2020. New digital businesses have already disrupted value chains across every industry. APIs are at the center of the digital business. You need to understand what assets you have that can be exposed digitally, what their digital value chain is, and how to create an effective business model around that value chain to compete in this economy. No enterprise can be complacent and not engage in the digital economy. Learn how to be the disruptor and not the disruptee.
Akana has released Envision, an enhanced API analytics platform that helps enterprises mine critical insights across their digital eco-systems, understand their customers and partners and offer value-added personalized services. “In today’s digital economy, data-driven insights are proving to be a key differentiator for businesses. Understanding the data that is being tunneled through their APIs and how it can be used to optimize their business and operations is of paramount importance,” said Alistair Farquharson, CTO of Akana.
Business as usual for IT is evolving into a "Make or Buy" decision on a service-by-service conversation with input from the LOBs. How does your organization move forward with cloud? In his general session at 16th Cloud Expo, Paul Maravei, Regional Sales Manager, Hybrid Cloud and Managed Services at Cisco, discusses how Cisco and its partners offer a market-leading portfolio and ecosystem of cloud infrastructure and application services that allow you to uniquely and securely combine cloud business applications and services across multiple cloud delivery models.
The enterprise market will drive IoT device adoption over the next five years. In his session at @ThingsExpo, John Greenough, an analyst at BI Intelligence, division of Business Insider, analyzed how companies will adopt IoT products and the associated cost of adopting those products. John Greenough is the lead analyst covering the Internet of Things for BI Intelligence- Business Insider’s paid research service. Numerous IoT companies have cited his analysis of the IoT. Prior to joining BI Intelligence, he worked analyzing bank technology for Corporate Insight and The Clearing House Payment...
"Optimal Design is a technology integration and product development firm that specializes in connecting devices to the cloud," stated Joe Wascow, Co-Founder & CMO of Optimal Design, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CommVault has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. A singular vision – a belief in a better way to address current and future data management needs – guides CommVault in the development of Singular Information Management® solutions for high-performance data protection, universal availability and simplified management of data on complex storage networks. CommVault's exclusive single-platform architecture gives companies unp...
Electric Cloud and Arynga have announced a product integration partnership that will bring Continuous Delivery solutions to the automotive Internet-of-Things (IoT) market. The joint solution will help automotive manufacturers, OEMs and system integrators adopt DevOps automation and Continuous Delivery practices that reduce software build and release cycle times within the complex and specific parameters of embedded and IoT software systems.
"ciqada is a combined platform of hardware modules and server products that lets people take their existing devices or new devices and lets them be accessible over the Internet for their users," noted Geoff Engelstein of ciqada, a division of Mars International, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
Internet of Things is moving from being a hype to a reality. Experts estimate that internet connected cars will grow to 152 million, while over 100 million internet connected wireless light bulbs and lamps will be operational by 2020. These and many other intriguing statistics highlight the importance of Internet powered devices and how market penetration is going to multiply many times over in the next few years.