Wii Remote Controls Giant Robot Arm

Wii Remote Controls Giant Robot Arm

If you had just finished construction on a five-story, 15-metric-ton robot grappler arm, what would you do with it? If you work for heavy machinery company Transmin, apparently you write a program to control it with a Wii Remote.

Transmin, an Australian-based company that manufactures heavy machinery, had finished an order to complete a pair of five-story robot arms that weighed in at 15 metric tons (or tonnes, if you're going to be picky about it) - each. The last step for the company was to create a control system that would allow an operator to either control the claws with a joystick, or enable automated movement while preventing disastrous collisions.

While celebrating the completion of the project over lunch, project coordinator Angie Loh told The Escapist, the team asked themselves, "What if we replaced the joystick with a Wiimote?"

The comment may have been meant in jest, but programmers Dan Adams and Simon Wittber took it as a challenge. They "looked at [their] watches, then rushed back to the office," says Wittber, where "[i]t all took off after that." Within two hours, Wittber and Adams had written a script in Python that would enable the titanic steel arms to be controlled by a dinky little plastic remote - leading to the video you see above.

Of course, viewing the video, one might (rightfully) wonder where the team could possibly have hidden the sensor bar. As it turns out, they didn't even need it: "The Wiimote uses the sensor bar to detect where on the TV screen you are pointing. It has 3 other sensors inside the Wiimote itself, for detecting pitch, yaw and roll. These sensors don't require the sensor bar in order to work, they communicate with the computer via Bluetooth."

Though Wittber admits that the controls "were not very precise" since the entire hack had been completed in two hours without proper calibration, it didn't actually matter thanks to software that compensated for user error when operating the arms. In fact, he thinks it would be completely feasible to accurately and precisely control the grapple - and do actual work - with a Wii Remote.

As it turns out, the Transmin programmers have experience working with game programming as organizers of the Perth Game Jam; Adams also recently founded his own development company.

Wittber believes that the intersection between games and reality - "augmented reality" gaming - will become more common, and that it could be a cool theme for the next Game Jam. While the team has no plans to do something with Project Natal or the PS3 motion control, that's due more to the lack of an available open source driver than anything else. Of course, whatever the team puts together next has the potential to be significantly more... entertaining, shall we say?

Next year we may be automating some large rock breakers for Transmin, and there could be some opportunity for more experiments with new types of control hardware. A rock breaker is basically a large grapple type arm, with a massive hydraulic hammer on the end. It can destroy things. Easily.

Maybe they'll get the hammer to work with the Sixaxis.

Permalink

That's awesome. Too bad, there are so many people doing awesome things with the wii and wiimotes, yet Nintendo never seems to do anything with them.

Australia confuses me. First they ban M-Rated games (tre uncool) then they do cool things like make massive 15-ton grappling arms controllable with a Wii-Mote, they try to install filters that make it impossible to download banned games online through Steam and similar sites and they have one of the funniest game critics (Ben "Yahtzee" Crenshaw) fanboys (the people who bring us Doomsday Arcade) and great developers (Rockstar Sydney and People Can Fly).

Surely the next step is to hook the other 15 ton robot arm to a Wiimote and have battles!

...i only just noticed that "wiimote" is a pun of remote....does this make me dense?

Australia: The land of AC/DC, Spiderbait, Bioshock, and good cheap beer.

What could go wrong?

Rigs83:
Australia confuses me. First they ban M-Rated games, they try to install filters that make it impossible to download banned games online through filter and similar sites

Oh. That.

Rusman:
Surely the next step is to hook the other 15 ton robot arm to a Wiimote and have battles!

Or give one crane a wiimote, and by controlling that with a wiimote control the second crane.

Or give them each the wiimote that controls the other one and see if we can't get some perpetual motion device to work

I think I finally discovered a useful application for Natal...

So how much does this addon cost?

the military could use game controlled devices like a gun that is mapped to a game controller

kaziard:
...i only just noticed that "wiimote" is a pun of remote....does this make me dense?

Honestly? A bit, yeah.

and this is why you shouldn't declare war on australia, we have giant robot arms controlled by wiimotes

Rigs83:
Australia confuses me. First they ban M-Rated games (tre uncool) then they do cool things like make massive 15-ton grappling arms controllable with a Wii-Mote, they try to install filters that make it impossible to download banned games online through filter and similar sites and they have one of the funniest game critics (Ben "Yahtzee" Crenshaw) fanboys (the people who bring us Doomsday Arcade) and great developers (Rockstar Sydney and People Can Fly).

It all makes sense when you mentally separate our government from our actual people. Australia wants to be a nanny state, but Australians just wanna have fun.

Yay? Why would you want to use a Wii-mote to do this?

Soon they'll build giant robots controlled by the Wiimote, then we'll have giant robot fights.

Rusman:
Surely the next step is to hook the other 15 ton robot arm to a Wiimote and have battles!

That sounds good, but it sounds like it would be better with the rock breakers. Just my opinion, though.

Radeonx:
That's awesome. Too bad, there are so many people doing awesome things with the wii and wiimotes, yet Nintendo never seems to do anything with them.

Same with the Mother series, Buh-Dum-Tish!

OT: Pretty much this.

xxhazyshadowsxx:

Radeonx:
That's awesome. Too bad, there are so many people doing awesome things with the wii and wiimotes, yet Nintendo never seems to do anything with them.

Same with the Mother series, Buh-Dum-Tish!

OT: Pretty much this.

I see what you did thar.

Radeonx:

xxhazyshadowsxx:

Radeonx:
That's awesome. Too bad, there are so many people doing awesome things with the wii and wiimotes, yet Nintendo never seems to do anything with them.

Same with the Mother series, Buh-Dum-Tish!

OT: Pretty much this.

I see what you did thar.

And it will forever sadden me.

The Wiimote is quite a great tool, you can do quite a few things with it that Nintendo didn't originally intend or envision.

All we need is a few more of these and we would be ready to take over the world from our lounge rooms, Mwhahah!

Er... No one is to steal my ideas.

*runs off to lair*

Rigs83:
Australia confuses me. First they ban M-Rated games (tre uncool) then they do cool things like make massive 15-ton grappling arms controllable with a Wii-Mote, they try to install filters that make it impossible to download banned games online through filter and similar sites and they have one of the funniest game critics (Ben "Yahtzee" Crenshaw) fanboys (the people who bring us Doomsday Arcade) and great developers (Rockstar Sydney and People Can Fly).

no we don't have an R rating we have an M 15+ rating

kaziard:
...i only just noticed that "wiimote" is a pun of remote....does this make me dense?

No, it means you were very resistant to nintedo's attempts so superimpose their image onto everyday objects.

Giant. Robot. Arms. With a Wiimote.

If we don't have giant robot Voltron battles using Natal by release I'm gonna be pissed.

Susan Arendt:

kaziard:
...i only just noticed that "wiimote" is a pun of remote....does this make me dense?

Honestly? A bit, yeah.

Asehujiko:

kaziard:
...i only just noticed that "wiimote" is a pun of remote....does this make me dense?

No, it means you were very resistant to nintedo's attempts so superimpose their image onto everyday objects.

I prefer the second one :D
anywho, now all we need is some legs and a torso..... KILLER ROBUTS!

Rusman:
Surely the next step is to hook the other 15 ton robot arm to a Wiimote and have battles!

Forget hooking it up to the crane. I want them to hook it up to this! You know that it is only a matter of time...

Rusman:
Surely the next step is to hook the other 15 ton robot arm to a Wiimote and have battles!

Giant 15 tonne robot arm-wrestling...
It would be fucking awesome.

is anyone thinking of that other article a couple of months ago about that life size gundam by some chance? about a dozen wiimotes and some duct tape and i'll rule the world!

Graustein:

Rigs83:
Australia confuses me. First they ban M-Rated games (tre uncool) then they do cool things like make massive 15-ton grappling arms controllable with a Wii-Mote, they try to install filters that make it impossible to download banned games online through filter and similar sites and they have one of the funniest game critics (Ben "Yahtzee" Crenshaw) fanboys (the people who bring us Doomsday Arcade) and great developers (Rockstar Sydney and People Can Fly).

It all makes sense when you mentally separate our government from our actual people. Australia wants to be a nanny state, but Australians just wanna have fun.

Yeah. And your toilets spin the other way.
But I digress.

Proof that once again XKCD was on the money, you can do fucking anything with python.

And this is why the Wii is awesome. They should make a car crusher controlled by the vitality sensor next. That'll put it to good use or something.

i wunder what they could do with a sixaxis controler of a ps3 ? fly a c17?

Does anybody else want to see these robot arms planted in the middle of a horde of zombies stretching to the horizon while one lone programmer sits on the roof of a nearby building armed only with a wiimote and a backpack full of batteries to save the Earth?

 

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