Posted by: robotnews | March 31, 2007

Home Navigation Robot – Cye

Cye, produced by Probotics, is currently the only home robot that can reliably navigate around a home or office. In fact, it navigates better than most research robots which cost upwards of $15,000.

Most robots use range finding and other sensors to move around and avoid obstacles, but these robots never know where they are exactly. On the contrary, Cye uses highly accurate positional sensors to generate a map of home/office, with minimum human help. He can track his movement on a map using a radio link to PC. (A sample map is shown.) Due to this, Cye always knows his exact location and can roam around precisely just like a human.

In order to get Cye installed and running, the first thing is to find an open corner as its base. Attach the radio modem to PC’s serial port, and then install a program called “MapNZap”. After a brief initialization sequence, choose the robot’s orientation relative to the screen, and the direction of the nearest wall relative to Cye. After making the selections, Cye will back off his base, move to the closest wall and bump squarely against it. Then he turns and come back near the base/charger. Now Cye is ready to start exploring.

After roaming around the rooms/office, Cye is instructed to come back to the homebase. The robot rolls through the door from other rooms and right up to the charger. It will be slightly off and miss the charging station. Not perfect, but close enough for a robot. However, Cye will back away, move to the other wall and square against it, then come back and complete a PERFECT dock. Apparently, bumping the wall the charger is on zeroes out accumulated errors on one axis, and bumping the other wall (remember that the base must be placed in a corner) zeroes out errors along the other axis. If Cye can get anywhere near his base, he will dock with his charger every time.

Cye’s navigation success attributes to “Dead Reckoning”, the ability to navigate using positional data only. When it moves to another room, the computer calculates a viable path on the map and sends coordinates for Cye to follow. As Cye moves, his encoder sensors check velocity/distance of each wheel 500 times per second. The telemetry data is sent back to computer so that the robot position can be tracked relative to walls and other obstacles. Probotics claims about Cye’s dead reckoning capabilities, less than 5 degrees of orientation error after 50 feet of travel.

Cye is the best and most affordable home robot on the market.

An amazing navigator: It is the only robot that can reliably find and dock with a charger. Cye uses the corner near its homebase to zero out errors that have accumulated during its journey.

Affordable: It is less than half the cost of its closest competition. Although at a price of US$695, Cye is still much cheaper than other robots, which are priced lowest at US$2000.

Can Vacuum the House: Cye can reliably vacuum every room in a house at any time of the day or night. Cye’s new Hoover cordless vacuum cleaner will keep the carpets clean even if you aren’t at home. It charges when the robot does, so it will vacuum completely unattended!

Cye is Programmable: It can be programmed in Visual Basic or C++. With a few changes in the powerful but user friendly “MapNZap” software, the robot can go from room to room, play tunes, haul dishes and vacuuming.

Can add extra sensors and motors: Cye’s external port will be able to accept a microcontroller known as Handy Board. This will allow more sensors, motors and LEDs to be attached.

Cye is Educational: Playing with Cye will help people learn about the exciting world of robots and robotics. Both kids and adults will learn about navigation, dead reckoning, programming and many more.

Xu Xiao U036505H



  1. Hmm….another special multitasking robot. But I guess you will need to do a lot of programming to allow it to work perfectly. Anyway, such robots I guess are still too dependant on the owners (even though it is deemed as independent)-the owners need to ensure that the environment that the robot works on remain the same, and that it receives regular maintainence.

    Imagine a single portion of the robot being damaged: the robot will go around the house creating chaos with the vacuum cleaner!

  2. Haha. the entry looks so well written that you could be hired to write adverts of the company.

    As an owner of a roomba, I’m curious, how does this differ from a roomba. In fact, it looks too big, and unable to reach into many places, and is about US$300 more expensive.

    The good thing is that it’s programable. (so is the roomba) So I guess it’ll be good for studying and learning. I can’t imagine it hauling dishes though. Will it wash dishes as well? haha. If it can really be extended to do a lot of things, then it’s very useful.

    Chen ZhaoLin

  3. To 1st comment:

    a lot of programming? probably… but the thing is the MapNZap software is user friendly and easy to use. you can do simple programming if you are not a programming guru. if you are a guru, then good for you. then Cye may perform many other functions under your control.

    for the vacuum cleaning part, it is an attached device to Cye. So when Cye is moving around, cleaning is also done simulatneously. When house cleaning is not required, one can detach the vacuum cleaner components and no chaos will be created.

    To Zhaolin:
    thanks for the compliment first, but i am not a hired advert for the company.

    i guess probably this robot is slightly the same like your roomba. but cye is actually not so big. (I just made the picture big so that everyone can see clearly.) its cost may be a little concern, but as mentioned in the entry, it is still much cheaper than any other competitors in the same category.

  4. the above(third) comments was written by the author.

    Xu Xiao U036505H

  5. It is so cool that the machine can be programmed. So I think those who are good at programming will love this. Beside a home robot, it is also a learning machine, in my opinion, haha.

    But a problem is that is there any situation that something may happen unexpectedly, like deadlock?

    Liu Ming

  6. To Liu Ming:

    yes, u r right. It will really cool for those programming genius. Maybe they can come up with new brilliant functions out of this tiny Cye…

    by the way, there will not be any deadlock situation if the programmer implement certain fail-safe features to the program.

    To all:

    if you are interested, please visit for a few short videos of Cye performing various tasks/errands.


    Xu Xiao

  7. U036418N Tan Chee Boon

    Judging from the picture, i wonder how it’s able to vacuum under tables or small areas. I doubt it’s able to do a thorough job. However, it is no doubt a very intelligent robot.

  8. Koh Yew Tong U036316U

    Cye seems to be an ideal robot for exploration in certain military activities. It can be employed to exployed the buildings that has been deployed by enemies.

  9. To Chee Boon:

    perhaps you are right. it may not be able to vacuum under short table. But I am sure it is able to vacuum underneath table which is at least 50cm tall.

    To Yew Tong:

    yes. thanks for the great suggestion. indeed it may be deployed in the military some day.

    Xu Xiao
    owner of the entry

  10. Yuzhenyu U037786A

    This robot look very helpful. It’s small and looks like dexterity. However, is it worth to use a robot to clean the room or just hire a maid. it doesn’t seems that robot could do as what a maid does. And the fees for a robot maybe is much higher than a maid.

  11. To preload the home map into the robot may save a lot of effort in sensing and processing, but is there a disavantage? The map seems need to be updated everytime a new furniture is added. And people have to avoid the robot, because there will be no sensor on it to tell if there is a person in front of it. Hope such issues can also be solved.

    Jin Peng


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