Concept: Canada’s robotics company Clearpath Robotics has partnered with California-based company Open Robotics to develop a next-gen open-source robotics platform named TurtleBot 4 aimed at educators, researchers, and developers. TurtleBot 4 provides a low-cost fully expandable mobile robotics platform with improved sensing, increased payload capacity, ROS 2 (Robot Operating System) support, and auto-docking capabilities.

Nature of Disruption: TurtleBot 4 is available in two models such as TurtleBot 4 Standard and TurtleBot 4 Lite. Both models are developed on the iRobot Create 3 educational robot, which provides various built-in technologies including an inertial measurement unit (IMU), optical floor tracking sensor, wheel encoders, and infrared sensors for accurate localization, navigation, and telepresence. It features a fully integrated 2D LiDAR (light detection and ranging) and a front-facing spatial AI stereo camera with a mobile base which makes it ideal for SLAM (Simultaneous localization and mapping) and AI-based testing. Both the models of the platform provide a charging dock that enables autonomous docking and battery charging. The standard model can be easily customized by integrating additional sensors and accessories via the accessible powered USB (Universal Serial Bus) hub, power breakouts, and the top mounting plate. The robotic platform features a programmable OLED (organic light-emitting diode) screen that allows users to quickly display information from any of the ROS topics. It is equipped with a Raspberry Pi 4 computer running ROS 2 and all onboard sensor data are available as ROS topics via the network-connected ROS 2 API (application programming interface).

Outlook: Open-source robotics platform can help educators provide hands-on experience for students to create robot prototypes during robotics training courses. Clearpath Robotics and Open Robotics claim that TutleBot 4 provides comprehensive courseware material, including lesson plans, lecture content, tutorials, and sample tests that enable educators to easily integrate TurtleBot into robotics training programs. The duo claims that TurtleBot provides cutting-edge technology for robotics research, development, and education at an affordable cost for the open-source robotics community.

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