TurtleBot great for driving food around the house

Willow Garage's low-cost kit can track people and take panoramic pics of your home. It also possesses the ultimate robot skill: serving drinks on a tray.

Tim Hornyak
Crave freelancer Tim Hornyak is the author of "Loving the Machine: The Art and Science of Japanese Robots." He has been writing about Japanese culture and technology for a decade. E-mail Tim.
Tim Hornyak
Willow Garage's TurtleBot can create maps of your home and panoramic photos. Willow Garage

We've seen cool hacks with the iRobot Create and Kinect before. Now, Willow Garage has a robot kit with both of them that can act as a waiter around your home.

TurtleBot is made up of a Create and a Kinect and run by ROS, the open-source robot operating software from Willow Garage, which is known for its PR2 and telepresence robots.

As seen in the video below, TurtleBot turns the Kinect into a mobile platform, so you can drive it around the house, carry a tray of food or drinks around, and take panoramic photos.

People can develop their own apps, share code, and take advantage of capabilities such as autonomous navigation and computer vision.

The kit comes in two versions: one for $499, which only includes the Kinect and mounting hardware, and another for $1,199 which has the Kinect, Create, and an Asus Eee PC 1215N.

I think we'll see some nifty tinkering with this.