Hacking Roomba

iRobot Create: Roomba as robotics platform

Engadget has a nice little article based on FCC docs about how iRobot is coming out with a specially-configured Roomba targeted at the robotics hobbyist.


This is great news. One of the problems covered in the book in many places is the difficulty in attaching add-ons (non-destructively) to the Roomba. With the 6-32 mounting holes and the cargo bay, this new Roomba will be perfect for the more serious robotics hobbyist. The Roomba is a wonderful robot base, it’s nice to see iRobot publicly acknowledge that.

This new Roomba variant is no longer a true Roomba because they’ve removed the vacuum capability. I’m a big fan of alternative uses for things, so for most people I’d recommend getting a normal Roomba and a Bluetooth adapter.


11 Comments so far

  1. Todd Kleinhans February 5th, 2007 10:26 pm

    I’m curious – are you planning a second book (already?) about doing even more projects but focused on iRobot Create and something like the new Microsoft Robotics Studio? These are exciting times we are living in!

  2. todbot February 6th, 2007 12:57 am

    Hi Todd (a fellow Todd!),

    The iRobot Create is essentially a modified Roomba. All the hacks presented in the book work with the Create. I’ve got a Create and have been testing it out. A review of it will be on the site in a week or so.

    I’d like to do an update to the book if the publisher thinks there’s a market for it. It’s really in their hands. I will be publishing various Create hacks on this site, however, as I do them.

    As for the Microsoft Robotics Studio, it looks great from what I’ve seen. I’m not really a Microsoft person and I don’t agree with the closed-source, proprietary systems the MRS produces.

  3. Daniel March 13th, 2007 1:14 am

    The iCreate comes with a ATmega 128 controller. Can this work standalone to control a Humanoid Servo?

  4. todbot March 13th, 2007 8:17 am

    Hi Daniel,
    The Create robot has a microcontroller you cannot program, but you can control via a serial port. The optional Create Command Module which plugs into the Create robots cargo bay connector is what has the AVR ATmega microcontroller. That one you can totally program.

    I’m not sure what a “Humanoid Servo” is, but if you mean standard hobby servos, then yes, you should be able to control several servos with the Command Module.

  5. Daniel March 13th, 2007 11:35 pm

    Thanks Todd,
    By Humanoid Servo I meant the Dynamixel AX-12 Smart Servo used on the Bioloid Kit made by Robotis.
    These sevos are available as components to integrate with other systems like Create Robots Ref http://www.crustcrawler.com There is a very interesting article about this in the March 2007 Servo Magazine.
    I understand that we need a microcontroller which can communicate at 1,000,000 bps. I was thinking of a project wherin I could use a 3 to 4 AX-12 servos on the
    Create Robot to create a Scara type configuration for packing vials in a carton

  6. todbot March 14th, 2007 12:24 am

    Hi Daniel,
    Ah yeah those little humanoid bot kits, those are awesome. From looking at the manual, you can use almost any communication speed up to 1 Mbps. Something like 57.6 kbps will work fine with it, and the Create Command Module (or any other microcontroller) will speak at that speed just fine.

    And, yah, I think those servos act like normal servos so you should be able to drive 4 of them just fine.

  7. Daniel March 21st, 2007 1:45 am

    Hi Todd,
    One question. Is the cargo bay connector a DB25?


  8. todbot March 21st, 2007 11:03 am

    Hi Daniell,
    Yup, it’s exactly a DB-25. A female one.

  9. Daniel March 24th, 2007 1:28 am

    Thanks Tod :)

  10. Ravi Shah May 1st, 2007 5:07 pm

    Can I attach the Create Command module to a normal Roomba? and can the programs that control the Create robot also control Roomba?

  11. todbot May 4th, 2007 10:54 am

    Hi Ravi,
    Unfortunately, no. The Command module is only for the Create, since only the Create has the 25-pin Cargo connector. However, the Roomba serial interface that comes with the Create works with other Roombas.