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Clearpath Announces TurtleBot 4

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Today, Clearpath Robotics is opening pre-orders for the newest, fanciest TurtleBot: the TurtleBot 4. Built on top of iRobot’s Create 3 in close partnership with Open Robotics, the TurtleBot 4 is a relatively affordable way to get started with ROS 2 even as a robotics beginner. And for folks looking for something more advanced, TurtleBot 4 also has the potential to help you extend your experience into graduate-level research, and beyond.


TurtleBot 4’s big differentiator is that it’s designed to showcase ROS 2, the powerful open source Robotic Operating System that is working hard to successfully transition from robotics research into an all-purpose framework that can safely and reliably power commercial robots as well. This is the first version of the TurtleBot to run ROS 2 from the ground up (including the Create 3 base), and offers an opportunity for anyone from precious middle schooler on up to learn ROS 2 in a safe and well supported way, on real hardware that is affordable(ish).

Clearpath Robotics

There will be two versions of the TurtleBot 4 available for pre-order from Clearpath, starting today. Both versions use the iRobot Create 3 development platform (
read more about that here) as a mobility base, with the same power and charging system including a base station. Both also include a 2D RPLIDAR-A1 sensor with a 0.15m to 12m range. Compute comes in the form of a Raspberry Pi 4B running Ubuntu 20.04 with ROS 2 already installed.

From there, the TurtleBot 4 Standard splits off from the TurtleBot 4 Lite. The Lite version misses out on some additional options for user accessible power, as well as useful interfaces including extra LEDs, some physical buttons, and a small OLED display that by default shows the robot’s IP address (or whatever else you want). This is especially neat because it makes it easy to fire the robot up and launch a demo behavior without requiring an external computer. The other big difference is in the sensor: the Lite includes an
OAK-D-Lite camera and stereo depth sensor, while the TurtleBot 4 Standard comes with a more capable OAK-D-Pro.

The cost of the TurtleBot 4 Lite is USD $1,195, while the TurtleBot 4 Standard is USD $1,850. Pre-orders will be available starting today through Clearpath distributors in North America, Europe, and Asia, and shipping will begin in July. This is certainly a premium over what you’d pay for all of the parts individually, and you can certainly build yourself a TurtleBot 4 mostly from scratch if you want to. But unless you have a specific interest in that process, there’s a lot of value in getting a robot that is ready to go right out of the box.

Technical specifications sheet for Turtlebot 4 and Turtlebot 4 LiteClearpath Robotics

Using the Create 3 as a base gives the TurtleBot 4 both the ruggedness of a Roomba and a bunch of useful integrated sensors—the same ones that Roombas use to reliably navigate your house and not fall down your stairs. The Create 3’s battery gives the TurtleBot 4 an impressive minimum battery life of 2.5 hours, and all of the parts are easy to fix or replace since you’ve got access to iRobot’s supply chain. Top speed is nearly half a meter per second, or slightly slower if you don’t disable the cliff sensors.

If any of this doesn’t satisfy your needs, part of the point of the TurtleBot platform is that it’s super easy to expand, as long as you know what you’re doing (or are willing to learn). Power and communications ports are easy to access, and the TurtleBot 4 has lots of easy ways to mount up to 9 kilograms of hardware.

Turtlebot 4 robot on a lab bench next to a laptop computerClearpath Robotics

Historically, TurtleBots have been very popular in educational contexts due to their affordable versatility and (at least in part) to the community support behind them and behind ROS more broadly. They’re great platforms for getting started with ROS (now ROS 2) on your own, or with other students. No matter what problem you run into, odds are someone has already had the same one and solved it and you can find it on the
ROS Answers message board. But hopefully you won’t need to do that from the start: TurtleBot 4 will ship fully assembled, with all necessary software pre-installed and configured, and you’ll have detailed user documentation plus demo code and a bunch of tutorials. There’s also a Ignition Gazebo simulation model to play with, which you can access without even buying a TurtleBot 4 at all, as it’s completely free. This should be especially useful for classrooms, where multiple students could work in simulation before trying things out on the real robot.

Close-up of Turtlebot 4 robotClearpath Robotics

To get more details on the TurtleBot 4, we talked with:

  • Bryan Webb, President of Clearpath Robotics
  • Steve Shamlian, Principal Software Engineer at iRobot
  • Katherine Scott, Developer Advocate at Open Robotics
  • Tully Foote, ROS Platform Manager at Open Robotics

IEEE Spectrum: Why is now the right time for a TurtleBot 4?

Katherine Scott, Open Robotics: I think there was always a rough idea that we wanted to get a new TurtleBot out around Foxy. Foxy is fairly well baked, and we wanted to give people a way to learn ROS 2, and especially for new people coming into the community, they’d have a way to start with ROS 2—that was a big motivator.

Tully Foote, OSRF: It was the beginning of 2021, and basically, we went to Clearpath and started talking about our vision for the TurtleBot 4, and how we wanted to bring it back more along the lines of the TurtleBot 2. We’d found that while the TurtleBot 3 has been awesome as a smaller and cheaper platform, the TurtleBot 2 had hit a sweet spot in size where it could carry things and go over things and be more of a ground robot as opposed to a desk robot. We had some knowledge of what was going on at iRobot with the Create 3, which runs ROS 2, so with that we’re building a ROS 2 robot on top of a ROS 2 base.

“Because it’s got the Raspberry Pi on it, it’s extensible. … Certainly if you’re creative enough, I could picture taking this robot all the way through at least their masters, and then possibly starting a Ph.D with it.”
—Bryan Webb, Clearpath Robotics

Bryan Webb, Clearpath: We thought that the primary ingredients for TurtleBot had really progressed over the last few years, so we could offer a much better development platform than was currently available, and support the community with the latest tools. So we were chatting about it, and it just seemed like there was a lot more that could be done to offer a higher capability robot in that entry level space.

As iRobot was thinking about making a Create 3, at what point did you decide that it could or should be part of the TurtleBot 4?

Steve Shamlian, iRobot: We’re all roboticists here at iRobot. We have a lot of love for the TurtleBot. Especially after seeing how the original Create drove the adoption of ROS—when we saw that ROS 2 was in a place where it needed a TurtleBot, we were really excited to try to help. We really want to help make more makers and more hackers, that’s what this is about.

How customized is the Create 3 for the TurtleBot 4 platform?

Steve Shamlian, iRobot: The Create 3 is an iRobot product that we’re very proud of. We were going to do it whether or not it was going to be a part of the TurtleBot 4. The timing worked out, and I feel very happy that it did. And we definitely talked about things that would be important for TurtleBot, and whether there were design affordances that we could make, but honestly that didn’t change the design very much from what we were going to do versus the things that were requested for the TurtleBot. I think we know the community well enough that we had a good idea of what we thought they would like, so it felt really good to see those things match up so well with what was needed for the TurtleBot 4.

One thing that I always appreciated about the TurtleBot 2 was that it came with a netbook on it that made programming and debugging really easy. That’s something I could see myself missing on the TurtleBot 4.

Bryan Webb, Clearpath: Not bundling the TurtleBot 4 with a netbook is partially reflective of the maturity of ROS, but that may be secondary to the supply chain constraints that we’re living with these days. Netbooks are not really available in the way they once were, and even back when I was intimately involved with the TurtleBot 2, it was always a struggle to find netbooks of the quantity that we needed. That was a big challenge in maintaining the product. So, taking that into consideration, coupled with the amount that ROS has matured, we thought that a good compromise was to make it really easy to hook up to a desktop.

Katherine Scott, Open Robotics: When the TurtleBot 2 was built, most single-board computers were fairly nascent. We put a laptop on there because that’s what was powerful enough to run the robot. One big thing for me was to at least get some minimum viable interface on the TurtleBot 4—a screen and some buttons so that you can at least see the IP right there and SSH into the robot within a minute of turning it on. We’ll be focusing a lot on the user experience here, and making it easy to use.

“We’re really looking to have something that offers a lot to novice, intermediate, and expert users of ROS.”
—Bryan Webb, Clearpath Robotics

How easy will it be to get started with TurtleBot 4, especially for beginners?

Bryan Webb, Clearpath: We’re going to have at least one formal educational course based around the TurtleBot 4. At this point, there’s going to be at least one, and we have eyes towards other opportunities to extend that.

Katherine Scott, Open Robotics: We’ve had a lot of discussions with academics and other people along the way, trying to figure out what’s going to work—you know, do we have to do courseware, or do we just provide the content, and what’s it going to look like?

With TurtleBot 4, we leaned into the simulation side of it a little bit more than we usually would. In a classroom setting, the feedback that we get a lot is that robots are really exciting, but they’re expensive. Classroom robots have always been expensive. So if we can do everything with simulation and then every classroom has two or three robots, I think it’s going to be a better way to do things going forward.

Tully Foote, OSRF: And part of this is also we’re going to be working hard to put together courseware and materials to be able to teach in the classroom, for a fully integrated experience. We’re hoping to have someone from academia writing real content for this, rather than asking a silicon valley engineer to do it. We want to get someone who knows what they’re talking about. The scope will be an introduction to robotics, so it may be starting not far beyond turning your computer on, but the goal will be to get to a college-ish level. And once we get a body of work there, we’d love to push it down to make it more accessible to middle and high school students, and also add more advanced things for graduate level.

How far can TurtleBot 4 take you in robotics?

Bryan Webb, Clearpath: There’s a lot of potential with the TurtleBot 4. Because it’s got the Raspberry Pi on it, it’s extensible. You can put on new sensors for different kinds of research, and build on top of it both physically and through software development. Certainly if you’re creative enough, I could picture taking this robot all the way through at least their masters, and then possibly starting a Ph.D with it.

Tully Foote, OSRF: I’d like to think that the TurtleBot 4, as a platform, is capable enough to take you through grad school if you’re doing straight robotics. If you want to work on multi-robot coordination, it has all the basics. And you should be able to add an arm onto it, and other things like that. But it’s always going to be an entry level robot. If you want to do mobile manipulation, TurtleBot can get you started, but you’re going to want to upgrade to a bigger, stronger platform. It’s really that entry-level robot for before you specialize.

Katherine Scott, Open Robotics: It’s also a good platform for when you’re starting a company. It’s a good platform for getting halfway there, before you can get to where you’re going. As an abstract mobile base, you can build proof of concept ideas, and when you’re ready, move up. The thing I’m excited about, if we do things right, a year from now we’ll see people extending the TurtleBot 4 with new hardware and capabilities.

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Paytm, whose share price has dropped 57% so far this year, reports Q4 revenue of ~$200M, up 89% YoY, and a net loss of ~$98M, up 72% YoY due to higher expenses (Reuters)

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Paytm, whose share price has dropped 57% so far this year, reports Q4 revenue of ~$200M, up 89% YoY, and a net loss of ~$98M, up 72% YoY due to higher expenses  —  India’s One 97 Communications Ltd (PAYT.NS), the parent of fintech firm Paytm, on Friday reported a wider fourth-quarter loss due …

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Doctor Strange 2 Surpasses 800 Million at the Box Office

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Image: Marvel Studios

As the weekend winds down, news has come out from The Wrap that Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, directed by Sam Raimi, has earned over 800 million dollars officially passing The Batman’s theatrical runs, the last big superhero flick to hit the theaters. Doctor Strange 2 is still a decent chunk of change away from the last Marvel outing–Spider-Man: No Way Home earned 1.89 billion dollars during its release.

The Northman continues to draw audiences, although its release to VOD has made it so that there will likely be little more movement after this weekend. To date the Robert Eggers-directed historical action film earned about 64 million. The film stars Alexander Skarsgård and Anya Taylor-Joy as they attempt to seek revenge and escape the clutches of a dismal fate.

This weekend also saw the first returns for Downton Abbey: A New Era, which brought in 16 million after its opening weekend. Universal Pictures, a specialty production from Universal Studios, released the sequel to 2019’s Downton Abbey, which in turn was a follow-up to the hit television series that ran from 2010 to 2015 and became an international phenomenon. The show follows the aristocratic Crawley family and their domestic help across six seasons and fifty-two episodes.

Alex Garland’s horror film of “toxic masculinity,” aptly titled Men, had a solid opening weekend as well (Entertainment Weekly). While 3.3 million might seem modest compared to the big releases, the film is a challenging and divisive watch distributed by the indie darling A24. For a better comparison we can look at the opening numbers for Everything Everywhere All at Once, another A24-distributed film, which netted 3.2 million on its opening weekend.


Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

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Your iPhone Pro Has LiDAR: 7 Cool Things You Can Do With It

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Tim Brookes

Some high-end iPhone and iPad models have a LiDAR scanner integrated into the camera module on the back of the device. This effectively gives your device 3D scanning abilities with a few unique and interesting applications.

RELATED: What Is LiDAR, and How Will It Work on the iPhone?

What Does the LiDAR Scanner Do?

LiDAR stands for Light Detection And Ranging, but it may also be commonly referred to as “3D laser scanning” or some variation thereon. The technology works by bouncing light waves at surfaces and measuring the reaction time to determine the shape and distance of objects in the area.

Think of it like RADAR (RAdio Detection And Ranging) but for light waves. Unlike RADAR imaging, LiDAR can provide more detailed and crisper scans with smaller equipment. LiDAR uses signals that work in the nanometer range, whereas RADAR requires the use of antennas that produce radio waves at much lower frequencies.

Coupled with the software on your iPhone, the LiDAR scanner can be used to create 3D representations of objects and their surroundings. To do this you’ll need the appropriate software which you can download from the App Store. Some core iPhone features, like the Camera app, will use LiDAR in other ways.

At present, only the iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 13 Pro, iPad Pro 11-inch (2nd and 3rd generation), and iPad Pro 12.9-inch (4th and 5th generation) are equipped with LiDAR scanners. If you look at the camera array on your device, the LiDAR scanner looks like a small round black circle.

RELATED: How to Use the iPhone Camera App: The Ultimate Guide

Create 3D Scans of Places You Love

Imagine if you had an interactive 3D model of your childhood home or a treehouse you built when you were young. Most of us keep photographs to remind us of places we once lived and loved, but what if instead of flat images we were able to take 3D scans instead?

Well if you have an iPhone or an iPad with a LiDAR scanner on the back, you can do exactly that. Having a 3D space to navigate is a lot more immersive than simply looking at a 2D image. Photographs and videos still have their place, but why not augment your memory bank with something you can experience in three dimensions instead?

This is possible with apps like Polycam, RoomScan LiDAR, and Canvas: Pocket 3D Room Scanner. Most of these apps are free to use, though there are paid upgrades that remove certain restrictions and improve the quality of the scans that you make. You can see LiDAR scanning in action in a YouTube video published by Polycam.

RELATED: How to See 3D Walking Directions in Google Maps

Buying a House? Redecorating? Scan First

Capturing a 3D model of a room or building has some very practical uses. If you’re currently looking to rent or buy a house, taking a scan of the building can help you make up your mind whether or not the place is for you. The process is very similar to taking a walk-through video or series of photographs, both of which are common practices in the real estate world.

Not only is a 3D scan more immersive, but it’s also easier to compare sizes, layout, practical space, and potential for renovation and other major work. We’d recommend taking detailed photos and videos in addition to your scan, which works best with apps like Polycam and RoomScan LiDAR.

If you’re planning major work in a home you already own, a 3D scan can give you a base from which to work in a 3D modeling app like Blender (if you’re comfortable working in such an app). Alternatively, it can provide a nice “before and after” comparison to look back on.

And lastly, selling your house without a real estate agent is surging in popularity. These apps allow you to provide 3D environment scans to potential buyers while still cutting down on expensive agent fees.

RELATED: The Best DIY Home Improvement Apps for iPhone and Android

Create Your Own 3D Assets

Photogrammetry is the act of creating 3D objects from photographic data, and it’s a time-consuming process. While the assets that photogrammetry provides are often highly accurate and detailed, the process of taking an item from a series of photographs to a finished model you can use can take hundreds of hours.

By comparison, a scan made on an iPhone or iPad with an app like Polycam can take a matter of minutes. Scanning an object is a bit like taking a video, and when you’re finished you can export a file that can be used in 3D modeling apps like Blender. Once you’ve tidied up your scan you can import objects into 3D engines like Unity and Unreal.

These engines are used heavily in game development, film, and interactive media. Conor O’Kane is a game developer with a YouTube channel who has not only used this technique but created a tutorial showing how to do this and why small developers might be interested in the process.

Scan and Share Interesting or Cherished Items

Are you a collector? Whatever it is you collect—art, plants, games consoles, or even cars—you might get a kick out of exhibiting it online, in a 3D format. Polycam is perfect for this since it includes built-in model sharing with the rest of the Polycam community, or “polyworld” as the app refers to it.

Some people share ice cream or rock crystals, others share their extensive sneaker collection. Even if you don’t have a LiDAR scanner on your iPhone or iPad, Polycam may still be worth the download just to see what people are scanning and sharing.

It’s like Instagram but for 3D models with an interactive element that other forms of media don’t come close to. It’s easy too, even if you make a bit of a mess while scanning the app has intuitive crop controls that allow you to remove background or surface objects.

Tip: For best results, place your item on a stand, pedestal, or stool before scanning

Take Better Photos in the Dark

Your iPhone and iPad already do this, so you don’t need to activate anything to get the benefit. However, if you’re putting off taking photos in the dark since you don’t trust your device’s autofocus, you might want to reconsider if you have a LiDAR-equipped device.

Since LiDAR is capable of judging distances based on how long it takes the light waves to return to the sensor, autofocus in the dark can be better calculated.

While standard cameras and non-LiDAR equipped models use contrast and phase detection autofocus (what Apple calls “Focus Pixels”) which struggle in low light, your LiDAR-equipped model fares much better. Coupled with Night mode you should be better equipped to take photos in the dark.

Measure More Accurately

You may not have realized this but Apple includes an app called Measure with iOS by default. If you’ve previously discounted and deleted it you can download Measure again for free from the App Store.

The app uses augmented reality to measure real-world distances simply by pointing your phone at a surface. Tap the plus “+” icon to start the measurement and move your device to see it in action.

iPhone Measure app

With a LiDAR scanner, augmented reality is vastly improved on the iPhone and iPad. Measure has gone from being a fun party trick to surprisingly accurate. In our tests, the app was right most of the time, with a margin of error of around 1 cm. This may depend more on how shaky your hands are than anything.

RELATED: How to Measure Distances With Your iPhone

Get More From AR Apps

Measure is just one such AR app that performs better when paired with a LiDAR-equipped iPhone or iPad. Every other AR app can benefit from the sensor, which provides a more stable experience by gauging distance using light rays rather than estimations derived from a “flat” image.

LiDAR really helps to improve the AR experience across the board, like when you’re creating art in apps like World Brush, SketchAR, and Assemblr. Need to provide remote assistance for a real-world problem? Vuforia Chalk allows you to scribble on real-world objects to help relay the point.

Try out various bits of IKEA furniture in your house with IKEA Place, or bring your child’s LEGO sets to life with LEGO Hidden Side, as demonstrated in the above YouTube video published by the Brothers Brick. If you’d rather have a more educational AR experience, Playground AR provides a whole physics sandbox to play around with.

Of course, these experiences are available on just about any recent iPhone, but the experience is considerably more stable with a LiDAR scanner. Find even more apps to enjoy in Review Geek’s roundup of the best AR apps for iPhone and Android.

RELATED: The Best Augmented Reality Apps for iPhone and Android

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