Rover1 is a 18"x12"x24" highly autonomous, programmable robot that was
the first robot produced by the Personal Rover Project. It is designed to be a fun way for
children and adults to learn about the technology needed for scientific exploration such as that done by NASA's
Mars Rover. By offering a low-cost, robust robot, we hope to make robotics accessible to the non-roboticist
public. The rover will introduce robots into the home as an outlet for creativity and a means for scientific
One of our goals in designing the rover was to create a robot that could autonomously navigate in the dynamic
environment of the home. To that effect we use a visual navigation system dependent on static landmarks. The rover
can also climb stairs. See the Robot section for more specific information on the rover's
architecture as well as videos of stair climbing.
Another goal in designing the rover was to create a user interface that would be
easy to use without limiting
creativity and that would draw the user in over an extended period of time. There are multiple sections to this
interface. One allows the user to teach the rover paths around the home using the rover's visual navigation.
Another lets users create missions and experiments by combining simple actions and previously taught paths.
A simple version of the rover, called a Trikebot, was used this summer to teach a robotics
course for 30 high school students in California. The
trikebot does not have the ability to climb stairs like the rover does, but it has the same vision system. At the
end of the course, the students took their trikebots home. We are conducting an educational study to see how they
continue to use the trikebots now that the course is over.