Native iPhone App makes it possible to Control iRobot’s Packbot with the iPhone

BY Jason

Published 22 Jun 2008

iPhone iRobot Packbot

Couple of clever developers from the University of South Florida have created a native iPhone application to remotely operate iRobot’s Packbot unit (that is one of the robots the US military is apparently using for surveillance/urban intelligence gathering operations in Iraq and Afghanistan).

So you might not be trying this out but like the native iPhone app developed to control Unmaned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and iPhone Lego NXT Robot, an iPhone app developed by  Battlebricks to use the iPhone as a remote to control a Lego Mindstorms Rover, this application falls in the very cool category of native iPhone apps.

The Packbot robot which is used for bomb-disposing, landmine detecting, machine gun carrying, surveillance  & urban intelligence gathering operations (like the one used in Iraq and Afghanistan) is manufactured by iRobot in Massachusetts. It transports itself via inbuilt tracks and is usually controlled via joystick-like device. Rodrigo Guiterrez and Jeff Craighead from University of South Florida had a better idea; use the iPhone instead of the joystick to control the robot.

They have developed a native iPhone application to remotely operate iRobot’s Packbot unit which provides an impressive full streaming Point of View video on the iPhone.

Syncing with the Packbot over Wi-Fi, the iPhone’s accelerometers allow panning and zooming while the touchscreen controls the Packbot’s movement. This is one application for which the video clip does a lot more justice, so check it out:

Apparently, David Bruemmer and Douglas Few, engineers at the US Department of Energy’s Idaho National Lab in Idaho Falls, who had hacked the Wiimote to control the Packbot robot in March this year were also to work on the iPhone next. The reason for using the iPhone was simple, soldiers should not need to lug laptops around with them when a modified iPhone could do the task equally well. You can checkout details on their work with the Wiimote here.

Congratulations Rodrigo Guiterrez and Jeff Craighead on developing a really cool iPhone application.

Folks, what you think about this native iPhone application to remotely operate iRobot’s Packbot unit, we will love to hear from you in the comments section below.

[via Engadget]


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