Posted by: robotnews | March 27, 2006

Surveillance Robotics: Using mobile phones to control robots for household security

U0307641 Low Youliang Freddy

In the present day, using mobile phones has become the norm. While people are out at work, they may be constantly worried about the condition of their household; be it thieves breaking in or an accidental fire being set. By combining these two pressing issues together, the idea of a mobile phone controlled robot is being explored upon. In fact, companies such as Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd has developed such a robot known as MARON-1. This kind of robot can be remotely controlledby mobile phone to operate home electronic devices and monitor home security.

This robot is equipped with a wide range of functions, including telephone, camera, remote control, timer and surveillance equipment. With these features, it is forseen that MARON-1 could be used for monitoring homes or even offices at night or for checking up on persons requiring special care and monitoring.

Maron-1 consists of a drive mechanism, a camera that can rotate left, right, up, and down, a programmable remote to control home electronic appliances, and a PHS communication card that, together with specially designed i-appli (*1) software, enables the robot to be operated remotely by mobile phone.
With this special feature to be operated by a mobile phone, the robot can take pictures and relay them to the phone’s screen, such that the owner can check conditions at home. In addition to this, the robot is not static. The owner can give precise commands for moving the robot forward, backward or turning in a desired direction. Also, by storing the home’s layout in the robot’s memory, the owner can give the robot a destination, and it will automatically navigate to that point, avoiding obstacles and maneuvering over door saddles and other surface gradations along the way. Alternatively, a pattern may be established for it to patrol a designated course.
Images sent by the Maron-1 can also be used for specifying a destination. The robot’s infrared remote control capability can be used to operate appliances such as air conditioners, televisions and VCRs. With today’s technology, i believe that it is also possible for the robot to control devices using “bluetooth” technology, giving it a wider range of operation.
By positioning the robot one or two meters from a spot the owner would like to monitor (for example, the front hall or a window) and turned appropriately, MARON-1 is able to detect anyone or anything entering its field of view. If it does detect an intrusion, it can sound an alarm and call a pre-set number.
The robot can also be scripted to take specific actions at specific times. For example, it can be used as an alarm clock or timer, or it can be programmed to take pictures around the house at pre-set times.
With its built-in PHS capability, the robot can be used as a hands-free telephone. Frequently dialed numbers can be stored in its memory for one-touch dialing. Other commonly performed actions may also be assigned to function buttons.

References:
[1] http://www.fujitsu.com/global/news/pr/archives/month/2003/20030313-03.html
[2] http://www.vimicro.com/english/whatsnews/newes/3/November82002.htm

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Responses

  1. PHUNG DUC KIEN U0308030

    The bluetooth range is quite short ( less than 10 meter) while IR is blocked by wall. I suggest the usage of RF to transmit in large range. Also, you can control the appliances in other rooms. However, the cost may be pushed higher.

  2. u0303819 Ang Yong Chee

    Given the high selling price of such robots , i suspect the burglar might simply choose to take the robot ( with its remote controller ) and immediately make for escape when he realised he is being detected ..lol

  3. eng10822 Loh Khai Choon

    This is amazing. I just feel, that the idea is very interesting, and I believe functionality wise, much more can be done. It is basically a computer that walks. PCs nowadays can do so much with phone calls, organisers and stuff like controlling power switches and stuff.

    Maybe for longer ranges, we could actually control stuff like switches via the power supply directly, hence giving it a much wider range of control, in addition to bluetooth, IR and RF.

    As for survellience, with so much functionally, I believe it can be equipped with an emergency signal, perhaps if the robot is forced to stop functioning, or moved out of range, a signal or message is sent directly to the owner so he will immediately know something is wrong. Just like in many of our home alarm systems which is capable of doing that.

    But, I guess with such a powerful robot, it WILL be very tempting for the burglar to actually want to steal it.

  4. u0205081 Chow Synn Nee

    This is indeed an innovative idea. I believe this is an extended application of the idea of remote monitoring of personal property over the Internet, to wireless communications.

    Since wireless communications has become the most popular mode of communication now, it seems only right to extend this application to wireless communications, which brings with it higher assessibility in notifying the owner, should there be cases of break-in or accidents.

    This surveillance robot definitely has an edge over the conventional surveillance cameras as it can move around and with its mobility, have better view of the property from different angles that conventional cameras might have missed out.

    It would be good if the robot can extend its function to play an alarm sound to deter the intruder, or even create alarm log to record the date and time motion is detected and mark the motion detected areas to serve as court evidence.. hehe~

  5. u0204699 – Ong Chin Soon

    This is indeed an interesting innovation, to be able to control a robot to perform certain tasks from a remote location with a mobile phone. Imagine coming home to find your room being cooled by the air-conditioner that you have asked your robot to switch on half an hour ago, your favourite soccer match that you have forgotten to tape down being taped by your robot and your hot pizza fresh from oven greeting you. Such a handy helper is indeed quite good to have. If the robot could, in addition to the tasks it can already perform, help to carry out household chores such as washing or vacuuming the floor, it would add much more value to the robot.

    I was just wondering how the robot would be able to detect an intrusion. Does it recognize an intruder as long as the image it sees in its field of view does not match the one it is supposed to see based on the home layout stored in its memory? In any case, wouldn’t a simple surveillance system that could send a message to the owner (perhaps via sms) installed on doors and windows be a better intruder detector than the robot, since the robot can only detect one that is within its field of view?

  6. U0205025 Diana Gobeawan

    I think this robot idea is cool, but it will be even better if the robot could do some self defence! And this means not just physically but also technologically. With the existence of a robot, burglar probably has harder time breaking into the house, but wat about a technologically savvy burglar? I have heard a lot of cases where burglar easily breaks into cars in Malaysia and steal them without sounding the alarm system of the car, just by tampering with the system using some computer program. Isn’t that possible to be done to the robot? Is it possible to make the robot think that the intruder is the house owner?

  7. U0205352
    Lim Lipien

    I feel that the ideal of controlling of the robot from a location with your handphone is a very innovative and convenient.

    Imagine, if you forget to switch off your electrical appliances, such as gas cooker, boiling kettle or television after you left home for around 1 hour or so for work,you are able to command the robot to do such manual tasks for you without having taking the trouble to rush back home from office especially when it is dangerous to leave the gas cooker or boiling kettle on for so long!!!

    Personally, I also feel that it also serves as a mean to quickly alert to the owner of the house when someone experiences accident or a slip in the house and unable to call help or rescue especially those family members of old age with poor health conditions who can suffer heart attack or stroke any moment. Thus, it also serves as a safety monitoring of elderly personnel for some of the households.


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