Mac mini robot uses Apple Mac mini for ‘brain’ and Apple iSight for ‘eyes’

University of Oklahoma researchers have built a mobile robot using an Apple Mac Mini and Apple iSight camera for tele-operation. The purpose of this project is to see what it is like to control to robot using the built-in visual and aural sensors before designing an agent to do the same task. The robot is a Pioneer 3-AT made by ActivMedia and the Mac Mini was graciously provided by Apple computer at no charge. Dr. Amy McGovern provided the iSight camera.

The tests were preformed at the Stephenson Research and Technology Center located at University of Oklahoma. The researchers, part of the Artificial Intelligence Research laboratory in Computer Science, were interested in evaluating the Mac Mini because of its small size, built-in wireless and firewire capabilities.

Tele-operation is achieved using the Mac Mini’s built-in wireless capability. The Aria demo software (running on the Mac Mini) is used to control the Pioneer 3-AT (via ssh from the control computer). A USB-to-serial adapter connects the Mac Mini to the Pioneer 3-AT. iChat transmits the audio/video data from the iSight camera back to the control computer. The blue device that looks like a coffee maker is a Sick laser range finder.

More info and photos here.

Advertisement: The new Mac Mini. Still starting at $499. Free Shipping at the Apple Store.


  1. Sweet! We didn’t have cool toys like an iSight or Mac mini for my senior design project in engineering. Our robot was smart though, I designed an intricate neural network to allow the robot to learn about and avoid obstacles.

  2. When I was an architecture student at the University of Oklahoma in the late 80s we had DOS computers in our lab. But friends in the Meteorology dept introduced me to the cute little SE/30s in their lab. I’ve been a mac user since.

  3. Dear god, please don’t call them researchers. Call them “People who get free stuff for building shit for Jobs’ propaganda machine.” Why not? Throw some grant money, watch the scientist jump through the hoop. This is really despicable. What a waste of a highly trained scientific mind. Or perhaps this really is “Artifical Intelligence”

    But hey, now that it’s possible, good for you Apple, and Amy McGovern, Jr. gets a new Mac mini. Everybody wins. Except me, who has to pay 25% MORE to make up for these shenanigans (yeah, I did spell check, AND I LIKED IT).

  4. Tim Berners-Lee was looking for a project that would justify getting a NeXT Computer. He came up with httpd and the Hypercard-like html.

    My mom used to say that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. My dad would add that you can catch even more flies with bullshit.

    Instead of whinning, come up with your own shit. It’s called Thinking Different.

    Magic word = specific.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.