Meet MiRo the Companion Robot
MiRo is a fully programmable autonomous robot for companionship, researchers, educators, developers and healthcare professionals. With six senses, eight degrees of freedom, an innovative brain-inspired operating system and a simulation software package, MiRo is a flexible platform suited for developing companion robots.
The future social robots will share our personal space, interact with us and with each other to provide emotional engagement and entertainment. MiRo is based on the simple premise that animals have qualities that are desirable in today’s social robots. They are robust, adaptable and good at communicating their feelings. Our approach is to build robots that think and operate very much like animals; from their senses and decision-making processes, all the way through to their bodies and behaviours. This makes MiRo particularly suited to robot-human interaction and robot-robot team interaction.
Wide-ranging suite of sensors including stereo vision and hearing, ultrasonic ranging, light level sensors, infrared cliff sensors, tactile sensors on the body and head, and interceptive sensors such as twin accelerometers, joint position sensors (proprioception), temperature and battery-level sensors.Good number of degrees of freedom, many of which (tail wagging and drooping, blinking, ear-rotation, head movements, coloured lights) are well suited for expressive communication. Fast and stable platform that works well on most smooth surfaces.
- Excellent battery life (up to 6 + hours between charges depending on batteries used)
- WiFi and Bluetooth interfaces for on-board programming and/or off-board control components
- 3D robot simulator (Gazebo) for speedy development
- Multi-processor architecture (3 stacked ARM processors) with useful suite of base behaviours ready-to-go
- Support for ROS and our own unique brain-based biomimetic control system 3BCS
- High-level control software stored on u-SD card
The MiRo platform is built around a core of a differential drive base and a three Degrees of Freedom (DoF) (lift, pitch, yaw) neck. Additional DoFs include rotation for each ear, tail droop and wag, and eyelid open/close. All DoFs are equipped with proprioceptive sensors (potentiometers for absolute positions and optical shaft encoders for wheel speed). The platform also has an on-board speaker currently programmed to produce mammal-like vocal sounds.
Stereo cameras in the eyes and stereo microphones in the base of the ears are complemented by a sonar range-finder in the nose. In the body, four light level sensors are placed at each corner of the base, two infrared ‘cliff’ sensors point down from its front face, four capacitive sensors are arrayed along the inside of the body shell providing sensing of direct human touch and an additional four over the top and back of the head (behind the ears). Internal sensors include twin accelerometers, a temperature sensor, and battery voltage monitoring.
CONTROL AND INTERFACES
MiRo’s default control architecture (3BCS, the brain-based biomimetic control system) is based on twenty years of research on animal brains and behaviour and is the first of its kind, its layers distributed across the three embedded ARM processors. However, if you prefer, you can control MiRo directly from your favourite development environment. You can control MiRo remotely through WiFi or Bluetooth and stream data or internal state. If you are a ROS programmer, MiRo can be easily configured as a ROS node.