We wanted Aido’s interface to run Android, as this would immediately give users access to millions of apps on the Google Play Store. However, Android was not powerful enough for what Aido had to tackle at home.
Hence, we decided on a dual OS architecture for Aido.
Aido’s Android frontend runs a Rockwell chip with 512MB RAM. This runs a version of Android Lollipop & a custom UI interface for rich interactions with people.
Aido’s core system runs on two quad-core 1.6GHz processors, each with 1GB DDR RAM. Aido’s core processor runs a headless version of Ubuntu. We have removed unnecessary drivers & modules that Aido doesn’t need. We are calling this version OpenAido.
OpenAido controls elements like mobility, WiFi signal strength & navigation, system guidance, onboard sensors, and projectors. We will be exposing select APIs for this interface, especially around the sensors for users who would like to play around with controls and data.
We will be releasing OpenAido under an open source license so that other robotics solutions can use the same system.
OpenAido and Android communicate over a secure VPN at all times.
- If there is a Wi-Fi connection available, both systems connect to it and communicate over this.
- If there is no Wi-Fi network available, the Linux system acts as a WiFi hotspot and the Android system connects to it as a client.
- In the latter mode, Aido will not be able to communicate with internet-based services, but can still run local media and functionality.
Aido is a robot to be used at home, and that has its own constraints. Aido would have to navigate around objects like chairs & tables. He would have to change direction easily as it moved around obstacles at home.
Aido balances on an omnidirectional ball – a ballbot design.
- Balancing Aido on a single ball means it is easy to spin around a central axis, so turning Aido around is much simpler.
- With a single ball base, Aido is able to move out of the way quickly if it bumps into something.
- By balancing forces between Aido’s body and the ball, Aido can navigate floors & even carpets.
With software, we can make sure Aido is balanced when at rest or when moving.
Aido is never really still, even when it is standing. It constantly equilibrates by slowly revolving the ball underneath its centre of gravity.
Aido uses a similar mechanism.
Aido counters sudden changes to its balance (a tilt of more than 8 degrees) with a set of retractable legs that spring out from the base to prevent it from keeling over. Push Aido, and the legs will spring out to provide immediate support. Aido will quickly try to stabilize by itself and draw the legs back in.
When Aido is stationary for a long time, it uses the legs to support itself. The legs also offer support when Aido is charging.
Note: The first ballbot was developed in 2006 at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in the USA. Another ballbot was developed at Tohoku Gakuin University (TGU) in Japan and a third one as a student project 2009 at the University of Adelaide (UA) in Australia.
We believe that voice will play a huge role in making robots more useful.
When designing Aido, we wanted users to talk to Aido, and Aido reply back in a conversational & more personal manner:
- Aido has a 6 mic array set around a circular base with a dedicated hardware chip for listening to human voice, even in noisy environments. It is the same design that many smart TVs use to allow users to control functions using voice.
- Aido uses a leading 3rd party speech engine based on a custom deep neural net architecture for continuous speech recognition.
- This allows Aido to listen to commands and parse them into instructions that Aido understands.
Aido can listen to voice commands and reply as well, perfect when you are busy with something else
While there has been great progress in voice recognition and response for smart devices, many of the interactions still come off with the device sounding robotic. Voice is a key part of personality, and we wanted Aido to sound as friendly as it is:
- We broke down most commonly used sentences and phrases and created a library for these
- We will have a voice artist render these, along with commonly used words
- Aido will store a library of the words, phrases, sentences as well as the audio files
- Aido will use these snippet in real time to talk back to the user
- We expect we can cover most of the daily interactions this way. For the bits that we don’t have voice snippets for, we will use a standard text-to-speech engine.
Aido supports Zigbee, DLNA, WiFi, Z-Wave, Bluetooth and IR.
Together, these let Aido communicate with over 10000 smart devices. New devices supporting these standards will automatically be compatible with Aido.
These also let Aido connect to your smart home security system and act as an interface to it.
Aido allows you to control thousands of devices by acting as a remote control. Once connected, you can issue voice commands to Aido to control the devices (eg: to turn down the volume of the TV)
- • Aido uses an open database of over 1000 devices
- • Aido’s IR blaster can mimic timings and signal codes for the remote controls of these devices
- • In addition to this, Aido’s infrared blaster and receiver help Aido build a topographic map of the house with obstacles that Aido uses to navigate around the home
You can also use Aido’s app on your phone to check on devices at home when you’re out, or set your Netflix to download your favorite movie and schedule it for playback when you get home.
Aido can talk to various devices1, including:
- CD changer
- Laserdisc player
- Tape deck
- Game console
- Light controller
- Climate controller
- Cable box
- Satellite box
- Smart Cookers
- Washing machine
- stoves and more
Smarten up your home
Aido comes with an optional smart appliance kit allows you to control appliances that do not have interactive capabilities built in. Aido’s smart appliance kit consists of:
- • 3 smart plugs: Plug your appliance like an A/C or a water heater into the smart plug. Aido let’s you turn them on or off, schedule timings or set triggers.
For example, you can program Aido to turn on the water heater 10 minutes before your alarm goes off in the morning.
If you forget to turn it off, you can use the Aido app on your phone anytime and turn off the appliance.
- • 2 smart bulbs: Replace your regular bulbs with the smart bulbs, and control features like light dimming or turning lights on/off using Aido.
For example, you can program lights to dim automatically when you turn the TV on or after a certain time of the day.