Who are we?
We are the KISS Institute for Practical Robotics (KIPR). We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit company that engages in STEM education outreach through robotics. KIPR operates the popular Botball Educational Robotics Program, an autonomous robotics competition for middle and high school students.
What is it?
Project Kovan is an easy to use and powerful linux-based robot controller. It aims to be simple enough for a middle schooler, powerful enough for a researcher, and versatile enough for the hobbyist.
What makes it different?
After playing with many of the other controllers on the market, we felt that they were all lacking something. We wanted a controller to be easy to use on the surface, but have the raw power to handle anything thrown at it. The new controller uses a touch screen, but still has a physical button. It uses a blazing fast Spartan-6 FPGA in conjunction with an ARM processor to handle tasks. It uses a Lithium Polymer battery to provide long run times and short recharge times. It is built on OpenEmbedded Linux, so it is very versatile, and already supports multiple languages and OpenCV for complex vision tracking. The best part is that you do not need a computer to program the controller! Of course, if you want to develop software on your laptop, it can be quickly downloaded to the robot controller by wifi or USB cable. Project Kovan can also control an iRobot Create or AR Parrot Drone, as seen in the video!
No computer required?
Because the controller is running linux, it is the computer. With USB input, the User Interface can be controlled with a mouse and keyboard. The HDMI output allows viewing on most monitors or TVs! Using the built in editor allows you to program the controller, then use it, all without plugging it into a computer!
- 802.11 b/g Wifi
- 4 - 1 Amp motor outputs with built in PWM and PID control
- 4 Standard servo outputs
- 8 Analog inputs
- 8 Digital input/output ports
- 1 Physical button (with 6 additional software buttons)
- IR Receiver and Emitter
- 800 Mhz ARMv5te CPU
- Spartan-6 FPGA
- 320 x 240 back lit LCD touchscreen
- HDMI out
- Internal speaker
- 2 USB 2.0 ports (host)
- 1 micro USB port (slave)
- 1 TTL serial port
- 2000 mAh LiPo battery
Mass: 295 grams
The native programming environment is KISS IDE. KISS IDE and project Kovan support the C, C++, Java and Python languages. The plugin architecture of KISS IDE allows for additional robot interfaces and compilers. All of the code is based on Qt/C++ and is open source. Command line utilities are also provided for those who wish to use no IDE or integrate with another.
Where are we at in the project?
We have several prototypes that are up and running. We are confident that we can deliver the controller as advertised (and maybe a little better). With your support, we'd like to place the first large order and continue developing software for the controller.
We have a finalized board that we have been using for internal testing and software development. Our manufacturer is only waiting for the number of boards to produce. Once the boards have been manufactured, they will be shipped to us for assembly and final testing. We also have suppliers for the other components of the product, including battery, touch screen, case, and other miscellaneous components. The only thing we need now is your support!
Like any project, there are lots of cool things that we would like to do, but currently do not have the time and/or resources to do them.
- $50,000 - Full support for Eclipse IDE in our software tools
- $100,000 - We add a second T-shirt design into the mix. T-shirt level donors get to pick their favorite design.
- $200,000 - Two (2) colors of cases to choose from, vote on the color of the second case. Controller level donors get to choose their case color.
- $500,000 - Native support for ROS (Robot Operating System).
Some of the Rewards
If you are not into robotics, some other suggested (but unsupported) uses for this controller are:
- Fish Tank Monitor
- HVAC Controller
- Cool Paperweight
- Home Automation Controller
- Web Page Server
- Theft Protection
- (30 days)