Getting Deep Learning Robot from Autonomous

So, I decided to buy the Deep Learning Robot from Autonomous. What happened next?

Ordering

The ordering process is simple. There is a pay button and instructions in the website, no surprises there.

Cost

The base price is USD $999 and the self-charging dock costs an extra $49. There is also a delivery fee of $50 if the delivery address is in US, or $200 if outside of US. I ordered the robot with charging dock, from Australia, therefore costing me USD $1,248.

That is not the total price though because the Australian government charges a tax on imported goods over AUD $1,000. The tax ends up being a processing fee of AUD $85 or so plus 10% of the price. Be aware of the taxation requirement of your country.

It is not cheap but is still a lot cheaper than a high-end personal computer. A MacBook Pro makes everything else seem so affordable, I suppose.

Shipment delay

Unfortunately, after I got an order confirmation and was given an expected shipment date, there was a delay and the actual shipment date was about 3 weeks behind.

On the bright side, the customer service in Autonomous has been very responsive to my queries, and when it dragged on and became a lengthy 3 weeks delay, they proactively offered a refund of 10% discount to me, which is very nice of them.

Delivery

I should mention that the courier company, FedEx, has been a source of frustration in my particular incident.

  • They called me multiple times to sort out the tax for Custom, and each time the staff has no knowledge about information I have already provided in the previous call.
  • I made a request to receive a call or text message when the parcel arrived, and was told this would not be a problem. Guess what - No call nor message upon arrival.

Unboxing

After a long wait, I finally got it!

Box larger than a chair

It is quite big! And weighs around 10 Kg. Consider how you are going to bring it home before picking it up from post office or workplace.

Many boxes

Above: Everything in the box. I think they included two charging docks by mistake. Yes, I put the watch there just to show you the scale.

Nvidia Jetson TK1

Above: Nvidia Jetson TK1 developer kit

Metal bars and odd bits
Above: Metal bars, USB connector and other odd bits that make up the robot structure. The yellow pack is a USB-to-micro-USB converter.

Kobuki

Deep Learning Robot assembled
Above: The assembled Deep Learning Robot from Autonomous.

Specification

The main components include:

  • Orbbec ASTRA 2D/3D Depth Camera - This works like a normal video camera as well as a 3D camera like a Xbox Kinect. On the Autonomous website, Orbbec ASTRA was not mentioned and Asus Xtion Pro was advertised instead, and I initially thought that the company sent me a cheaper alternative. I later researched and found that Orbbec ASTRA is a comparable product adopted by the TurtleBot community as a replacement for Xtion Pro, since that went out of production and became hard to find.
  • Nvidia Jetson TK1 developer kit - This is basically a mini computer, without the monitor, keyboard or mouse. On the website, Nvidia Tegra K1 is advertised instead of Jetson TK1. Actually they are somewhat the same: Tegra K1 refers to the processor/System-on-a-Circuit (SoC) while Jetson TK1 refers to the whole circuit board.
  • Bluetooth speaker - No brand.
  • Kobuki mobile base and charging dock
  • And other parts that make up the body of the robot

After assembling, the robot weighs about 6.5 kg. It is about 52 cm high and 36 cm wide.

Consider it a coffee table.

Recent Improvements

There is another article about similar unboxing experience that was written a year ago in early 2016. Here are some improvements I spotted:

  • The assembly instructions have become slightly more detail, increased from 7 to 10 pages.
  • It seems that there used to be zero setup instructions. There are now at least some brief post-assembling setup notes.
  • The speaker and the camera used to simply sit on their respective “discs" with no fixation whatsoever. There are now some plastic "magic tape” to fix them there.

Assembling and Setup

There is a 10-page IKEA-style assembling instructions and is quite easy to follow. No special tools required and it will probably take only 30 minutes if things go well.

There is also a 6-page setup instructions that touch on the following topics:

  • Setup WIFI
  • Test ROS on robot
  • Install ROS on computer
  • ROS & TurtleBot tutorials
  • Caffe
  • Torch
  • TensorFlow

However, don’t expect much - they are very brief and serve more like a pointer to other free resources on the Internet. For the few paragraphs on Caffe, Torch and TensorFlow, they are more like... Go check this out.

You need to connect the robot (the Jetson TK1) to a monitor, keyboard and mouse to setup the WIFI. If nothing is displayed on screen, try moving the mouse and typing. If it is still blank, try restarting the robot after monitor, keyboard and mouse have been connected.

Once the robot is connected to my home network, I could ssh to it from my computer and run some ROS commands according to the instructions to make the robot move around. Yay!

That's it! The robot really does not do much out of the box. But this is also the fun part and the reason I wanted it - I am going to write some code for it so that it can do something interesting!

Getting Deep Learning Robot from Autonomous
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