“Sid” is Si digital’s latest interactive remotely-controlled robotic arm. According to their website:
“Sid was created as one of our many hack weeks here at Si digital. The underlying objective is always to create something as a team that we wouldn’t normally get the opportunity to do with client work. Ideally it will expand our skill set and expose us to new technologies and methods that we can bring back into our client projects.
Connecting the virtual and physical world is always a lot of fun. From real time socket communication to live webcam streaming, theres a lot going on to allow Sid to be controlled. We’ve listed all the technologies used and how they interact so you can hopefully be inspired to try something similar yourself!“
Sid is based on a standard AL5A robotic arm from Lynxmotion (SSC-32 servo controller and USB to serial adapter) as well as additional electronics. In the first week it was launched, it has received nearly 80,000 visitors and has been played over 20,000 times. There is often a lineup to play, and you can either play anonymously or via your Twitter account. The current leaders all have 240 points (45 seconds alloted time).
Its creators seem to have thought of everything; not only is there a main camera to view the entire field, but as you move the gripper down to pick up a ball, the camera automatically switches to a better view from right in front of the ball pit. Points are automatically tallied, and balls return to the same place each time. The creators even prevented the robot from damaging itself by restricting its movement (for example you cannot purposely move the robot to hit the sides of the field). We encourage you to give it a try and wait to see who can beat the 240 points mark.
Based on our experience, some hints to getting a good score:
- The 80 point hole is hidden on the robot’s right side – try to aim for this each time and get to know a good location to drop the ball.
- Not all holes are the same size – for example the 80 point hole is a lot smaller than the rest.
- You have to be fast and get used to the controls; this means getting into the queue as soon as you can and testing the limitations
- The robot’s motion is reliable and fluid. This is a game of skill – not luck. Practice practice practice!
Hopefully playing with Sid will also give you a good idea of the capabilities of the AL5 series, so it would be great if we see additional real-time games showing up online which use this arm or other robots.