Robogaia 2D Robotic Obstacle Detector

Ever wanted to build a robot butler that won’t run over your cat?

The Robogaia 2D Robotic Obstacle Detector is a robust object sensor that can be used in situations demanding wide-angle proximity sensing. A small team of engineers from Cleveland – under the name Robogaia Industries – is developing the device and is now running a Kickstarter to fund development of its fourth version.

Inspired by a lack of inexpensive sensors on the market that they could use in their robots, the team at Robogaia crafted their own and now make the result available to anyone.

Within the case are two infrared proximity sensors attached to a rotating motor. Each individual sensor covers a 90 degree sensing arc, which means the total sensing range is 180 degrees (hence Robogaia “2D”). The motor oscillates quick enough to provide 2 Hz scan rate.

The microcontroller inside the device is already programmed to analyze and parse the data. The device has a simple command-line interface, similar to the Linux terminal. Data is encoded in ASCII, so you can write to the device by sending the characters that make up the command you want to send, in serial. Data is output in ASCII. In the example sent to me by Robogaia, the data is a list of proximity values for 7.5 degree intervals between 0 and 180 degrees.

The Robogaia uses two Type-B USB connections for power and data transfer, the implication being that Robogaia is microcontroller agnostic. According to the Kickstarter page, they may also add SPI and RS232 support. This means you can connect it to a Raspberry Pi, an Arduino, or an FPGA board; whichever controls your project.

The Robogaia 2D Robotic Obstacle Detector is available now for $139 at the Kickstarter page.

Check out the video below for more information.