Intel researchers design smartphone-powered robot that costs $50 to assemble


Robots don't have to be expensive. In fact, if there's a smartphone handy, a wheeled'bot can be built for around $50, according to Matthias Muller and Vladlen Koltun. The two Intel researchers are the coauthors of a recent paper titled "OpenBot: Turning Smartphones into Robots," which proposes leveraging phones to equip robots with sensors, computation, communication, and access to an open software ecosystem. Using off-the-shelf smartphones as robot brains confers a number of advantages beyond cost savings. Rapid upgrade cycles mean secondhand smartphones are readily available -- an estimated 40% of the world's population owns smartphones -- and they're constantly improving with regard to camera quality and processor speed.

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