Auto-docking the stretch

During the recent social, I’ve heard one person mention that they were perma-tethering the robot, allowing remote tele-op without having to worry about the battery.

Has anyone thought of or managed to build an automatic dock (a.l.a. roomba docks) so that we can guide the stretch into the doc when the battery is low?

Hi. Welcome to the Stretch Forum!

A docking station is definitely on our radar. We’ve heard now from a few Stretch users that it would be useful. We currently have a conceptual design for a simple add-on to the Stretch trunk and a base station that would allow auto-docking to the existing NOCO charger.

If there’s interest in the Stretch community we could put some engineering resources on this and develop the concept. Presuming it all works as intended, we would likely release the add-on on the Stretch Tool Share along with some demo code for auto-docking under Stretch ROS.

I’d expect the initial release would be fairly ‘beta’ but we would welcome feedback and contributions from early adopters to help us iterate and improve it.

Thoughts?

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all of what you said sounds like music to my ears!

Looking forward to the beta, and happy to help out in any way.

Great, we’ll get going on this now! We’ll post updates on this thread periodically, feel free to check-in…

We’re happy to report that our quick study of a docking station looks promising. Here’s short video showing the mechanical docking into the charger connector (controlled by XBox teleop).

More to come!

Quick update. We continue to make progress on the docking station. Third iteration shown below. We still have a bit more mechanical refinement to do before moving on to developing the docking behavior (based on the Aruco tag).

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if you end up with something remotely close to beta-testing, happy to help test it / pre-order one of these.

Hi. We’ve got a few dev units that are pretty far along mechanically (see below).

At this point we are paused waiting on the engineering resources to tackle the auto-docking behavior based on the Aruco tag.

I’ll do my best to move this up in our engineering queue. If anyone out there in the Stretch community has an interest in prototyping the docking software let us know. We’d be happy to collaborate!

–Aaron

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I’d be happy to collaborate in building the ar-tag auto-docking.

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Great!! Our team has discussed internally and should be able to staff engineering around the end of October. We can ship you a dev unit right away however. I’d suggest coordinating with @bshah on implementation. He has given it a bit of thought already.

We’ll reach out by email on further details.

Quick update for anyone tracking this development. We’ve posted preliminary Python, URDF, and instructions on the Stretch Tool Share for the ‘beta’ version of the docking station.

This video shows the latest version of the hardware under manual docking.

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