SRV-1 Blackfin Mobile Surveillance Robot.
Those words conjure up an image of a sleek metallic stealth machine, a metal creature that skims low to the ground across enemy territory to capture images of the bad guys. Something like a human-sized flying wing adorned with cameras and other spy gear.
Well, the SRV-1 isn't quite that.
There's marketing for ya. Doesn't even have a fin.
In fact, the SRV-1 is only the size of my palm. And while it doesn't skim low over the ground like a hovercraft, it does offer some pretty cool features.
The Blackfin in this little guys name refers to the 1000MIPS 500MHz Blackfin BF537 processor that is its brain. The SRV-1's treads and camera are controlled via an 802.11b/g wi-fi wireless remote interface and a Java-based console for PC. The included software also allows control of the little robot via a web browser from anywhere on the planet. Anywhere with a signal, that is...
SRV-1 navigates via two laser pointers. Tank-style treads propel the little whopper across the floor. The frame is made of machined aluminum and supports the Blackfin processor, as well as a 1.3 megapixel 160x128 to 1280x1024 resolution video camera.
A working knowledge of Java comes in handy when setting up the software. What's cool about this is that those with Java programming experience have full access to the source code and schematics.
The Java-based console application runs in not just Windows, but also in MAC and Linux.
Users that feel really adventurous can update the robot's firmware (written in C language, Open Source GPL) and can also program specific commands that run user programs from on-board Flash memory. Tools for these applications can be found on Blackin's site.
And if that's not enough, third-party support (such as drivers, simulation software, and a wide range of scripts) for the SRV-1 can be found at RoboRealm, Microsoft Robotics Studio, and Webots.
These are features that aren't available in many of the small commercial robots, making the SRV-1 more than just a little surveillance machine to tool around your house at your command while you lounge by a pool in Barcelona. The open-ended nature of both the firmware and the software allows for all sorts of fun, inventive uses.
So, while it's not the swift, futuristic spy machine I imagined when I first read it's name, the SRV-1 Blackfin Mobile Surveillance Robot offers quite a wide variety of robotic fun all in one tiny little package.
If you want to get a really versatile little robot, go to ThinkGeek!