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Programming Robots with ROS by William D. Smart, Brian Gerkey, Morgan Quigley

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Chapter 16. Your Own Mobile Robot

One of the most rewarding (if occasionally frustrating) robotics projects you can undertake is to build your own robot. There are lots of great robots out there, but sometimes there isn’t one that suits your specific needs. Or perhaps you just want to have the experience of designing and building a robot yourself. Whatever the reason, once you’ve built your amazing custom robot, how do you go about controlling it with ROS?

In this chapter, we’ll walk through the steps of connecting a new robot (albeit one inspired by a very old robot) to ROS, allowing us to then use the libraries and tools that we’ve discussed throughout this book. While we’re framing this chapter as a guide to ROS-controlling your from-scratch custom robot, it applies equally well to any robot that isn’t already “ROS-ready,” whether a robot built from a kit of parts or an off-the-shelf robot that doesn’t yet have ROS support (an increasingly rare occurrence).

TortoiseBot

We’re going to build a new indoor mobile robot. For inspiration, we look to one of the very earliest such robots, which was called Elsie (Figure 16-1). Elsie was one of a series of robots built in the late 1940s by Grey Walter, a British neurophysiologist (or perhaps cybernetician). A pioneer in his field, Walter built robots as part of his study of animal behavior. He believed that by building machines that exhibit complex, lifelike behavior, we can learn about how natural organisms work. This area of study ...

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