Thanks to remote applications like telepresence robots, distance isn’t a problem anymore. However, telepresense robots usually cost several thousand dollars. Johnny Chung Lee, the famous Wiimote hacker who also worked on Microsoft’s Kinect, has combined a netbook with an inexpensive iRobot to create a low cost telepresence robot. iRobot Create is an educational mobile robot platform for hobbyists, students, and educators. The netbook sits on top of the robot and does the actual job of video chatting using Skype.
The control software that moves the robot around the house is written in C#. A physical modification of the robot’s docking station allows for both the netbook and the robot to charge simultaneously. With the iRobot and the netbook costing around $250 apiece, the total cost is about $500. The complete build instructions and the source code is available for download on the project website.