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Linux Robotics: Programming Smarter Robots [Paperback]

D. Newman
1.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Dec 21 2005 0691142963 978-0071444842 1
Robotics is becoming an increasingly popular field for hobbyists and professionals alike. The cost of the mechanics and electronics required to build a robot are low enough that almost anybody can afford it. The hardware that used to require government funding or a large university is now available to the average person. At the same time, programming is becoming a more common skill. This book combines the most sophisticated parts of robotics and programming to fill a real gap in available information. Most robotics books today use microcontrollers as the “brains” of the robots. This approach is fine for smaller, less expensive projects, but has serious limitations. When attempting to build a robot with sophisticated movements, navigation abilities, vision, and picture-capturing abilities, it is better to use a single board computer (SBC) such as Linux as the controller.

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From the Back Cover

POWER UP YOUR ROBOT WITH LINUX

If you want your robot to have more brains than microcontrollers can deliver -- if you want a truly intelligent, high-capability robot -- everything you need is right here. Linux Robotics gives you step-by-step directions for "Zeppo," a super-smart, single-board-powered robot that can be built by any hobbyist. You also get complete instructions for incorporating Linux single boards into your own unique robotic designs. No programming experience is required. This book includes access to all the downloadable programs you need, plus complete training in doing original programming.

THE POWER TO BUILD A SMARTER, MORE SOPHISTICATED ROBOT
Combining essential aspects of robotics and programming, this book/Website package from programmer/robot enthusiast D. Jay Newman for the first time empowers hobbyists to construct more intelligent, higher capacity robots. Use it to start designing and constructing your own superbot today.

Put More on Board with Linux

  • More sophisticated movements
  • Better vision and sensing
  • Greater behavioral flexibility
  • Upgraded image capture
  • Improved navigational skills
  • Smarter decision-making
  • Faster responses
  • And more

Access a Roboticist's Dream Website FREE with this book:

  • Downloadable software
  • Circuit examples
  • Solderless breadboard designs (no tools required)
  • Complete classes in behavioral and neural network programming, in Java
  • www.books.mcgraw-hill.com/authors/newman

About the Author

D. Jay Newman is a programmer, writer, and robot enthusiast. He has been interested in computers and robotics for as long as he can remember. This is his first book.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
I actually purchased this book shortly after it was released. Today I found it on a search and thought I should comment. Fundamentally, the author's goal seems to have been abuse of people interested in robotics.

Personally, I love the study of robotics. The author, however, has contempt for those interested, or so it seems. While professing a love of robotics, he advises us to use outdated and useless communication methods which I was able to discover with a simple google search.

He is unable to provide a SINGLE example of a functional system or part thereof. This is doubly damning as he consistently states that he has produced same. He gave links in the book which, before I did my googling, I attempted to follow and see his code and efforts. He never ONCE in the code produced something more than prototyping.

Worse yet, all of his examples are worked in Java which, for those attempting to work with embedded Linux, is about as powerful as the proverbial coconut-carrying-sparrow. Perhaps it could grip it by the husk, but who cares, the bloody thing will never get off the ground!

I was so discouraged after reading this travesty of a book - which purports to "step by step" walk you through the construction of a functioning robot - that I ended up shelving my project and this book for several years. The one thing that this Author will ensure is that you never get off the ground. RUN. He's a black-hole waiting to suck up your wallet.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Robotics Camplicated Jan. 7 2009
Format:Paperback
This book should have consisted of more Linux based programming attributes and algorithums, although the book covers some programming and how to output simple commands it was easy to see the author had not been up to date with Linux robotics software. This book is of minimal use in my robotics library and simply turned the door nob (if I may) to the door of Linux robotics, all of the information in this book is linked and cited to web sites I already had booked in my web browser. Although the book is of some use it does not contain useful diagrams, or step by step guides as implied it is more of a Velcro shoe to begin your journey into learning to tie your dress shoes. I personally would not recommend this book for a robot building enthusiast if you know how to use an educated search engine.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.6 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a how-to book on "Linux Robotics". March 5 2006
By Vince Thompson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I've been looking forward to Mr. Newman's book since his postings earlier last year on a robotics forum. I find the subject of incorporating a mini-itx computer with the Linux operating system into robots fascinating and I want to do the same. From this book, I understand he has working robots using this configuration. I'm sure I could learn a lot from Mr. Newman on this subject. I wish this book had provided insight into the pitfalls, tricks and details that a Microsoft Windows user could benefit from to accomplish his same results with Linux. I feel this book falls too short on the Linux content as implied by the book's current title. This would otherwise be a good book if it were renamed.

I found the mention of Linux related topics on approximately 25 out of 155 pages in this book. This is excluding the 119 pages of Java source code in Appendix A.

Chapter 1. Mentions Linux on 9 of 25 pages where the author describes in general terms that he is using Gentoo Linux and describes generalized reasons why you might want to use Linux.

Chapter 2. I didn't find any mention of Linux.

Chapter 3. Mentioned Linux on 3 of 15 pages. The author describes in general terms that a Linux motherboard can be a master node on the network. He discusses using USB devices with Linux.

Chapter 4. Mentioned Linux on 3 of 16 pages. He revealed that Linux is not a real-time operating system. Motherboards using the FTDI chipset seem to better support Linux. The author stated that he had to write a USB driver for Linux but gave no detailed information.

Chapter 5. I didn't find any mention of Linux.

Chapter 6. Mentioned Linux on 3 of 10 pages. In this chapter he describes where he found text to speech source code.

Chapter 7. Mentioned Linux on 1 of 15 pages. He mentions that some high-level open source vision systems are easier to work with under Linux than others. Another general comment was about video drivers for Linux.

Chapter 8. I didn't find any mention of Linux.

Chapter 9. Mentions Linux on 2 of 8 pages. He describes Joone as a nice Neural Network Interface that works under Windows and Linux. He admits that he runs his on a Windows laptop but it could run on Linux.

Chapter 10. Mentions Linux on 5 of 17 pages. The author's wireless Linksys network card is not part of the Linux kernel but is supported in Gentoo. This chapter makes other general comments regarding Linux, WiFi, and NFS.

I don't fault the author for this book; other materials in this book are of value to some readers. It makes a good introductory book for someone interested in learning about robotics topics. I respect Mr. Newman for his contributions to the robotics forums.

I do however fault Tab Books for the title and promotional material surrounding this book. I'll be wary of their books in the future. Perhaps a more appropriate title would be "My Robot Uses Linux" or "Java Robotics". This is not a how-to book on creating your own "Linux Robotics" projects.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sadly the cover art is the best part! Jan. 2 2007
By A. Boehm - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It is fare to say Mr. Newman is very competent programming and using Linux. The one star rating has more to do with content and publishing rather than a knock on Mr. Newman. It was obvious he was under time constraints and that this was his first book. He spends more time talking about features that are not working yet or that he wants to implement, than the process to build the robot in his book. The majority of the book is short descriptions without depth. The title and the table of contents are very unreflective of the text contained in the book. The book has 155 pages of "content" and 120 pages of Appendix. The code in the 119 pages of Appendix A while well written could have been included on a CD and much more detail added to the book. It reads, looks and is a rush job. It is clear Mr. Newman has skills and a firm grasp of Robotics and Linux. It is also very clear that this TAB book is a bust. I returned the book. If you are looking for an in-depth Linux and Robotics book then you are much better off with Open-Source Robotics and Process Control Cookbook: Designing and Building Robust, Dependable Real-time Systems

By Lewin Edwards. I bought this at the same time I bought Mr. Newman's book. I also own Lewin Edwards first book.

Embedded System Design on a Shoestring

I consider both of Lewin Edwards works mentioned above as must have books.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lots of Robotics, Not so much on Linux March 10 2006
By John Matlock - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Building Robots has become a fascination to a lot of people, including Mr. Newman, the author of this book. His robots are a long ways from C3PO. He basically build a robot mounted on wheels that has an awful lot of electronics. But then again he is including a lot of features in his design.

There are lot of ways to implement the controller. In this case he uses a small size but standard PC motherboard. On this board he runs a Linux operating system. In spite of the title, this is not really a book on how to use Linux to control robots. He just happens to use Linux for his robot because it is cheaper than Windows.

Most of the programming information he gives is the form of Java progrms that will handle the various devices (such as vision) that he wants built into his robots. In fact, much of the book, too much in fact, is given over to code. The code is available on line, reprinting it here in the book is pretty boring reading.

The book is a good introduction on how to design and build a robot using standard components. Here's how you can get started.
7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive coverage of a lot of material Jan. 29 2006
By Randall P. Hootman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
D. Jay Newman has done an impressive job of trying to educate the masses on just how powerful of a robot you can build using common off the shelf parts. He uses a mini-ITX pc board to provide a robotic brain with sufficient power to do many things. He discusses many concepts such as imaging, artificial neural networks, and mapping. While he does not go into great depth on each subject, he supplies quite a great deal of information about each subject and points you in the direction to learn more. If he would have went in depth on each subject presented (and I am sure he could), the book would have been a multi-volume tome. He clearly points out that there are other references that you should consult. For example, how far in depth would you expect him to go into electronics? I think he touches on the subject admirably and then points you to other references. This is what he does throughout the book. As for the previous reviewer's complaint about the source being in Java and it not being open source, I would like to point out that there are open source versions of Java if you are a stickler for that. IMHO, the use of Java in this book was a wise decision. D. Jay Newman gives you a well thought out class library for his robot as well. As for the other comment about being able to find the information on the net, well, you can find just about anything on the net these days. But being able to have a reference that will introduce you to the subject and then point you to other references is invaluable to me. This book is clearly a winner and deserves a place in my robotics bookshelf.
11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars To much of a title for what's in the book Jan. 6 2006
By Andres Paglayan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
One would expect to see how implementing C or C++ robotic applications using real time Linux embedded devices, or inexpensive hardware, would be. Instead, the book guides you on how to build a robot using a PC running Linux (mini-ITX format). All the code is in Java which is not an open source platform, and its downloadable listing takes about half the book. Nothing is covered in depth. More than half of the other book's halve presents information you may already know before purchasing the book, and the rest is easy to get from many robotic sites on the internet.

If I could have picked the content before, I wouldn't bought it.
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