At a robotics competition last year, I spoke to a team that was experimenting with computer vision for their robot. The concept was nothing new. Many of the teams had cameras on their robots and were using them to detect the reflective tape within the completion field. What was unique about this particular team was their approach.

Off load the camera and image processing to an old smartphone and feed only the computed results to the robot main controller.

the POSH Micro X
the POSH Micro X

Smartphones have tremendous processing power onboard to deal with the demands of the graphics. The GPU in most is more powerful than he CPU.

It’s not too difficult to write software for Android smartphones and older models are readily available on eBay.

But why by a used phone when you can buy a new one for less?

The POSH Micro X isn’t the typical android smartphone. It’s tiny! That small size may make it a niche phone for most people but it makes it ideal for a robot. If you don’t care about the color, it can be bought for a little less than $50 US. That’s not much more than the cost of a USB camera!