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GreeterBot Meeting Notes

Kickoff Meeting Notes 7/30/11

Cali's notes

Greeter Bot

It'll be made out of "found objects". I'll have viewers send in pictures of any old tech they have and want to donate. We can decide what we want as they're submitted. I'll give them a period of time in which to submit. The main goal of the bot will be to greet people when they walk in the door and lead them to the right people. We'll contact VEX to find out if they want to donate parts. 


We'll install a wireless door sensor'. Combined with either awebcam or a motion sensor ON the robo't, he'll recognize that someone has entered. 


There will be a time delay to allow the person to get in the door. After about 2 seconds, the bot will say "Welcome to Livid Lobster. Who are you here to see?". We'll need voice recognition to accept about 15 name choices. Here he needs to be able to do one of two things: 1) Respond accordingly to the answer with "The first hallway, 2nd door on the right." OR 2) "Please follow the Lobster." In this scenario, he'll send the correct signal to the Lobster Bot.  We'll need a microphone on the bot or somewhere by the door.


  • The torso will turn slightly
  • His left arm will gesture in 2 directions
  • Head will nod
  • The mouth will light up, but not move


  • On/Off Switch
  • Power from wall socket


<u</u>If we could incorporate a way for people to take a picture with the robot, I'd love that! But it's not a requirement. The idea I like the best so far is attaching a Quikpod ( to it's waist with a camera attached. The camera would be one that could upload photos directly to a social media site and tweet/update with a link to the picture. There would be a button somewhere on the torso or easily reachable, so the person can snap the photo themselves after posing. 

Lobster Bot

The lobster bot would sit on the floor beside the Greeter Bot and take direction. We need to decide what form of communication we're using for this. He'll follow a line path to lead the person to the right office and return after a moment's delay. 

Paul's Notes

Present: (Partial list - please update): Cali, Nicole Greeley, Eric Chaney, John Haskins, Leland Flynn, Shona Haskins, Paul Bouchier, Andrew LeCody, JohnK, Brock, Steve Rainwater, Steve Reeves

  • Can we rename this page to GreeterBot?"
  • Brainstorming on Tuesday
  • Paul to create a concept doc & Rqmts & System design
  • Lobster to guide guests to half-dozen offices down one of 2 hallways
  • System detects entry with proximity detector detection after door open
  • User speaks name of person to meet
  • Android tablet displays pictures of people they can meet, with option of pressing a name,
  • AI Steve: contact Tim @ Willow Garage to see if we can get a turtle-bot for the lobster
  • AI Paul: contact Vex & ask for sponsorship for this project
  • AI Paul: make a profile on the wiki
  • Name: Boiler-face robot
  • Guide-bot Livid Lobster
  • Eric: Design idea: OpenCV has "people approaching" detection

Leland's Notes

  1. Door sensor & web cam activated
  2. Greet guest verbally, gesture towards door
  3. Possible voice recognition, request whom you are looking to see and direct you to them
  4. Full sized Humanoid
  5. Facade of old discarded tech
  6. Possible lobster guide bot?
  7. Lens Eyes
  8. Standing, mannequin style. Upper torso movement

Meeting Notes 8/2/11

Paul's Notes

Present: Cali, Steve Rainwater, Talyna, Shona Haskins, Doug Emes, John Haskins, Paul Bouchier + others - please add


  • Understand items we need to acquire
  • Start assigning people to specific roles


  • Discussion of process. Agreement that the process of creating the art part of it will be informal & ad hoc, whereas the engineering part will follow a lifecycle comprised of concept, definition, development, validation, deployment phases.
  • Cali: donated items are likely to include hard drives, old monitors, odds & ends
  • Discussion of evaluating pix of offered objects. Idea: have a tag on Flickr, or a group, so people can upload what they have to offer. Steve: group is easier to see. Agreement: create a tag that people can tag pix, & if Cali likes it, ask them to put it into a group
  • Shona idea: Max-headroom like head (put a monitor on its head
  • Steve: idea: welded base on which things can be mounted
  • Visually like a transformer is what's in Cali's head
  • Carpet flooring in office
  • Idea for lobster: IR line follower
  • John build a clay model which we looked at

Team Organization and Roles

  • Sponsor: Cali
  • Requirements Analyst & Systems Engineer: Paul
  • Project Mgr: Leland
  • DMS photographer: Steve Rainwater
  • Documenter: Cali
Mech Team

GreeterBot Frame, aesthetics, motion, arm, electronics mounting. Lobster mechanics, aesthetics, motion, electronics mounting

  • Cali
  • Talyna (skeleton) (leader - temporary)
  • Steve Rainwater
  • John Haskins
  • Shona Haskins (cat herder)
  • Other volunteers?
GreeterBot Robot Electronics Team

Electronics & FW to drive arm motors, flash lights, sense door, communicate with speech processing computer

  • Paul Bouchier (lead)
  • Glenn Pipe
  • Other volunteers?
Speech Recognition/Speech Computer Team

Listen for entry detection by GreeterBot. Announce welcome message. Listen for response & interpret. Direct user to destination & tell GreeterBot & Lobster what to do.

  • Brock Marks
  • Other volunteers?
  • Need an expert in voice recognition, or someone who wants to learn
Lobster Robot Team

Lobster electronics & FW, motion control, navigation, location system

  • Doug Emes (lead)
  • John Haskins
  • Cali
  • Other volunteers?

Project Planning Data

  • Desired timeline: available by end of year
  • Schedule: most flexible; Resources middle, scope: least
  • AR: Andrew will set up email reflector - Done: [email protected]
  • Communications: We'll use wiki & email
  • Agreement: Livid Lobster will own all HW & components that are part of the system. The IP created will be open sourced


  • Robot will stand 14' from door. There's power nearby
  • Robots must fit in 4' of width. Hallway width between wall & desk is about 5'. We believe min width required by code is 3'
  • Robot height 5'6
  • Want requirement: quickpod to take picture of person with greeterbot
  • Glenn has lots of beefy hobby servos for arm motion
  • Theme: Cali's thinking not cute, but not scary either
  • Need list of items we might want viewers to provide
  • We'll meet next Tuesday
Requirement Ideas
  • Maintainability: system should have all parts relatively easy to see
  • Requirement: system shall be able to alert in case of internal malfunction. Alert: MUST: red light, WANT: tweet. Reset button or power cycle to turn off alert
  • System shall detect if lobster fails to reach target & return, and send alert
  • Requirement: camera on greeterbot
Design Ideas
  • Need proximity detector on outside, so person entering would be sensed by outside proximity followed by door opening, then interior proximity. Detection = outside proximity then door open then interior proximity detection.
  • Idea: use camera for detection of person inside, approaching 'bot
  • Steve tech Idea: OpenCV alternative to proximity sensor - if there's a face it tells you someone's approaching the robot. Could be an alternate to proximity sensors. It can do it in realtime on Intel processors
  • Doug idea: We could have pushbuttons with people's name on them if we don't have a real touchpad.
  • Doug idea: how to detect if sound is broken (mic broken or speaker non-functional): voice recognition system should listen to robot talk & check for correct recognition of voice. Send alert if not recognized
  • Lynxmotion has robotic arm. Also Lynxmotion has servo erectorset. Dynamix servos are $200
  • Idea: point dropcam through TLR medium format camera & have it send images back to web viewer
  • Steve: CMU has a voice recognition system called sphinx that run on linx


  • Steve: Mail delivery bots in hospital: Paint paths with IR-reflective invisible paint
  • Doug: use color sensor & colored LEDs
  • Oguz: ceiling beacon
  • Leased space, so wires in ceiling is OK but holes in wall not ok
  • Doug idea for localization: IR LED in ceiling at characteristic frequency for door, & upward-facing IR LED

Action Items

  • Team leaders come up with wish list
  • AI Paul contact John Swindle & ask him if he's interested in working on speech processing computer
  • AI Paul : send email description of project to DMS & DPRG & ask for volunteers
  • AI Steve: talk to David @ probotics, & David Hansen, & ask about arm design
  • AI all team leaders, think about what parts they need, & Cali will post the list. Deliver list by next Tuesday
  • AI all teams produce initial ideas for what their part might look like

Technology investigations

  • Voice recognition & speech synthesis
  • Arm design

Steves action items for Aug 9

  • Talk to David (probotics) and/or David (hanson) about arm design
    • David Jannke (probotics) offered advice on mechanical design and motors
  • Wish list for mech team
    • pair of ventilated brake disks
    • any junk that comes in matching sets (for right/left symmetry)
    • scrap steel pipe or plate (non-galvanized!)
    • large, low-voltage (12v/24v) gearmotors such as windshield wiper motors
  • Rough proposals for mechanical design
    • General notes for aesthetic design
      • suggest feelings of harmony, friendship and compassion
      • vertical lines suggest strength, dominance, and aggression
      • horizontal lines suggest peacefulness and thoughtfulness
      • sharp angles suggest violence, conflict, and anger
      • curves suggest generosity and femininity
    • Suggestions for frame design
  • Sketches of potential design

Meeting 3 8/9/2011

  • Brock demo'd his speech engine, using CMU's Phinx4
  • Cali to deliver Mindstorms kit to John, try it out for Lobster
  • Paul recommended Vex for GreeterBot.
  • Mike Eber showed a video of a vex robotic arm which might be suitable
  • Jason showed a set of eyes
  • Cali update: Partner has a plasma CNC cutting machine. Propose cutting it out of steel. We'll put out our wish list & see who provides what.
  • Discussion of hand: Cali likes the idea of
  • New requirement: Demo mode for GreeterBot for when it's taken out, Need quick disconnect. Issue with going into random environments
  • Jason offered a touch screen with built-in camera
  • AR Paul call Paul & see if I can get the new Vex Linux controller Done Vex will give us 1 or 2 Linux controllers
  • Proximity sensors: usually passive IR. Sparkfun, Parallax. Sparkfun PIR SEN-08630 $9.95 Qty 2
  • Home depot door switch
  • We want mech team to select motors. We suggest a servo for ease of use, but we can handle a DC motor by putting a feedback pot on it. Agreed by Mech team
  • Pololu sells a board that turns a motor + pot into a servo
  • LEDs - we have them that we can donate. Ask Cali to think about number of Leds, colors, etc
  • USB - serial cable
  • Idea: use bar-graph LED
  • AR Paul: ask David for a sound to LED board
  • Question: is there going to be a jaw motor A: No
  • Vex: ask for a couple of ultrasonic sensors, for safety
  • Head is going to do nod & side-to-side
  • Mech team will tell us whether the other arm will be motorized
  • Head will have 2 degrees of freedom
  • Eyes will be fixed

Team Updates


  • Cali has parts. Square tubing for skeleton.
  • Base frame is a tube frame.
  • Outer skin will be 1/16 - 1/4" steel. 3-dimensional metal skin
  • Removable sleeves to enable access to sleeves
  • Head will be a separate set of parts

Main computer team:

  • Get rid of proximity sensors & replacing with Kinect
  • SW on main computer would tell servos to move around
  • Idea: Kinect SW can determine whether someone is coming toward
  • Idea: Pressure mat at door
  • Agreement: we will take the waterfall entry sensor and Kinect sensor
  • Main computer would run the main program and tell what subsystems to do
  • There would be OpenCV running on a different computer driving
  • Responsibilities: articulate robot subsystems. Interact with person, tell lobster where to go
  • Main computer will be a restaurant POS system, XP compatible, runs whatever you load on it. Touch screen (14"), 4GB dual core processor, fanless.
  • Windows 7 on machine
  • Will use google API for speech recognition (http post an audio clip).
  • Windows 7 also has windows speech recognition.
  • Note: google api depends on internet connection.
  • Concept: will use Windows7 text to speech & speech recognition
  • Kinect has microphone
  • Mech team has thought about where to put a speaker
  • Can get drivers for the touch screen for Win7

Lobster Team

  • I mentioned to you that we wanted to pick up the NXT from your corporate office this week.
  • The Harlans will be building a NXT platform for initial speed tests to determine if it is a viable platform

for walking speed (we have concerns it may not be fast enough, but we want to do due diligence.)

  • I will be building a similar proof of concept out of Vex.
  • Meanwhile, Oguz (pronounced close to "owes") is taking the next week to review his previous experience with

IR LED tracking solutions for recognizing the lobsters location at your office.

  • John will continue to design the asthetics and assist the rest of the team.
  • Our next "deadline" will be presenting a chassis that is mobile within hopefully 2 weeks.
  • Doug's cellphone is 2145009813, please feel free to call me or google chat.
  • Our team is still very much looking for additional contributors, as we will have a software phase in a month.
  • Team talked about several tracking approaches
  • Oz is on Lobster team
  • Thinking environmental modifications for locating (LEDs).
  • Oguz looking at OpenCV to track a pattern of dots. Cameras looking at lobster from hallways. Idea; odometry to get to hallway. Camera to locate bot, then odometry down to the door.
  • Idea: put magnets in the floor & magnetometer to find how far. Possibly in combination with wall distance sensor: magnet tells you when you've gone far enough
  • Another idea. Induce a magnet field in a wire - like a metal detector
  • Question: can lobster be driveable for demo mode
  • AR Pick time for Next meeting Sat 20th
  • AR: put Johnk on lobster list & send him a list saying he's on the lobster list
  • AR pick time for next meeting
  • AR: pick meeting dates

Meeting 4 8/23/11

Team status and needs

  • Doug: lobster team: looking for more people. Harlan's have finished NXT robot. Doug trying to get Vex skinny. Want wheel supported on both sides of axle in 6" width. Don't need anything from Cali. Might need John to increase width of lobster.
  • Jason: can't get a POS terminal owing to NCR acquisition.
  • Suggest touch-screen monitor with regular PC.
  • Android tablet issue: not compatible with PC SW.
  • Jason requests a PC (e.g. Dell) pref with Win7. Mike good on that.
  • Jason working on skeleton - gender-neutral. Needs design decisions: is body going to be a box, an oval, or whatever. Need to decide how skin is going to get attached to skeleton. Cali: prefer skin attached on back side. Anticipate box-shaped body.
  • Need to know how important disassemblable is. Cali has a big trailer. It doesn't need to be disassemblable beyond a level needed for a human to handle it.
  • AI: Jason send a pic of the model to Paul to post on the wiki
  • AI Cali send Paul pix of office
  • AI: Talyna send Paul pic of robot Done
  • Decision: we will go down the kinect path for approach sensing
  • Jason will account for kinect in mech team
  • Mike needs to ask Eric to help with the vision processing
  • Cali out for the next month
  • Next group meeting at Cali's office 7pm 4002 Beltline Rd #110 Addison. (Surveyor & Beltline between Marsh & Miday)

5th Meeting 9/13/11, held at Cali's office

Present: Cali, Paul, Doug Emes, JC, JohnK, Glenn, Brock, Steve Rainwater, John Haskins, Eric Chaney


  • Cali: Weight not a big deal. Welded together is OK. Portability isn't that big a deal
  • Agreement: definition of proof of concept: Greeterbot recognizes someone approaching, speaks & presents at least 1 button, listens for input, flashes mouth lights & moves motors
  • Request aesthetic based on steel - welded - no pins is requested
  • Eric had a Zoom lens on his Kinect: shortens minimum range by 2'


  • John showed a leg mechanism based on the Strandbeest by Johanssen - proposes lobster should have 3 legs side-by side , driven by a motor.
  • Lobster team found Lego NXT won't run fast enough. Decided to use Vex controller & parts

Next meeting: Oct 8 at DMS