Chris Alexander

On Engineering

Kinect on mobile robots

20th January, 2012

Following near disaster over Christmas, I have resolved a hardware issue with the robot and got some impressive performance from it.

The robot uses a Kinect sensor for establishing its 3D environment. However e Kinect is designed to run eier off an Xbox 360 (the new one) power boosted USB variant, or off mains - neigh of these are good options for a mobile robot.

Howev thanks to some useful blog posts and a couple of email exchanges with various robotics colleagues around the world, it became apparent that cordless power drill batteries are ideal for driving the Kinect for sustained periods.

I have a Bosch 14v drill battery, which I stripped to its bare innards so it can fit inside the rather compact chassis. Over Christmas this system stopped working and I had to run the Kinect from mains, which is a non-ideal solution while trying out various algorithms of motion.

Today I had a check of the cables, charged the battery and checked the switches and it seems everything is back to normal and fully working. I was even able to get an astonishing 93 minutes of full-on Kinect use out of the not-quite-full charge, surpassing my own ambitious predictions by over 50%!

I will post full details of the Kinect setup for batteries at some point as I think others may fund it useful. It is also extremely cost-effective.