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Disco Robot

Enabling dancing and playing melody using voice commands

Olesya Derkach, Doga Demirel, Byungkyu Kang,

Valerii Dychok

Byungkyu Kang, Sachiko Oshio, Erica Sheff, Clifford

Tawiah, Donnie Turner

Department of Computer Science

University of Central Arkansas
Conway, AR
United States of America

Department of Computer Science

University of Central Arkansas
Conway, AR
United States of America

Abstract Robot Navigation with audio or speech sensors is

an emerging area of research in various fields of robotic
exploration and artificial intelligence. Robots have great
importance and future in our daily life. Albeit to a lesser extent,
speech controlled are capable of serving multiple purposes across
a wide variety of application domains. The work presented in our
paper describes a robot which can recognize voice commands,
attempt to understand the command by inferring the intent of
the command and responding as programmed. In order to
further the research and show robots capabilities, more
complicated commands such as dance and square were
implemented. Also, several melodies were coded, and one of them
was incorporated with robots movements as the experiment



During the Fall 2013 semester Multimedia class students

started to work on implementing voice recognition function on
Arduino robot. The Arduino platform consists of a single-board
microcontroller that aims to make using electronics in
multidisciplinary projects more accessible. As a speech input
device that would recognize voice commands, VRbot Speech
Recognition Module was used. The project was focused solely
on enabling speech recognition in a robot by using wireless
communication. This semester goals included implementing
more complicated movements like dancing and enabling robot
to play melodies. One of the main concerns was to merge
movements with the sound. All equipment, methods, and
results will be further discussed in the following sections.

A. Hardware

For this project DFRobotShop Rover Kit is used. Following

hardware is used to enable robot dance when receiving the




Figure 1: Wireless Connection between the robot and

the voice recognition


DFRobotShop Rover Kit. This kit includes the robot

which will have an XBee module installed on it to
receive the commands from XBee installed on
VRbot Speech Recognition Module. This module
processes speech and identifies voice commands.
Two XBee Radio Frequency Communication
Modules. These modules create a wireless link
between the speech recognition engine and the
Figure 1 shows how the Arduino robot connects with
the EasyVR through wireless communication, by
using two XBee modules. One of them attached to
the EasyVR and the other one attached to the
Arduino Uno. This board controls the speech
recognition module.
IO Expansion Shield. This shield connects an XBee
module to the Arduino Uno
Male Headers. These headers are required by the
XBee shield.
Barrel Jack to 9v Battery Adaptor. This adaptor
allows the Arduino Uno utilize a 9v battery as a
power source.
Speaker with hook-up wires. Is used to play the
melody. For this project it was soldered on IO
Expansion Shield, so no need to connect it

B. Procedure Flow
Like every running application/program our robot has a
procedure flow. This flow starts with receiving the voice
command and ends with executing the move. As seen in Figure
2, voice communication between the DFRobot and the voice
recognition module, have 6 procedures in the flow.
The first four of the steps are executed on the voice
recognition module, and the last steps are executed on the
Below is the execution sequence provided that applies to
any command:


VRbot Speech Recognition Module receives

voice commands
Stores commands and recognizes received
command by a particular index
Arduino Uno stores set of actions for each
XBee module attached to voice recognition
module sends a character representing a
movement to XBee module attached to DFRobot
XBee module attached to DFRobot receives
character representing a movement
DFRobot executes a movement based on a
character received.

C. Software
Voice controlled communication requires two IDEs to be

EasyVR Commander - is required to work with

EasyVR Voice Recognition module
Arduino IDE - to code robots moves and melodies
Following Table 1 demonstrates the full cycle of execution
of command Right:


Say Right to the microphone

Recognize the command under index 1

Find corresponding set of movements

Send characters d and f to DFRobot

Receive characters

Move right, then stop

Table 1: the full cycle of execution of command Right

Below follows detailed explanation for the above table with

code snippets and program flow.
1) The Right command is first in the command list in
EasyVR Commander thus holding the index of 1. When the
user says Right into the microphone the code that is
uploaded onto the Arduino Uno board begins to execute.
2) Here is the pseudocode for the Right command:
Switch statement start
Case one: // Right
Make d available on port
Block any other characters from being sent
Make f available on port
Exit the switch

Figure 2: Arduino procedure flow

As we can see from the snippet above the logic for the
Right command is not complicated. First of all it is a switch
statement with several different case statements; each case
number corresponds to command index in the command list in
EasyVR Commander.

3) When appropriate case is found by the program the

statements inside it begin to execute. The logic behind them is
the following:
Serial.print() will make specified character (d in our
case) available on a certain port.
Delay() ensures that no other characters will be send during
the time specified in the parenthesis and that this time will be
spent on a command execution.
4) When first Serial.print() is encountered the specified in
parenthesis character is sent to the VRbot for interpretation and

change the connections, when we want to control the module

from the microcontroller.
The mode used in this project is the bridge mode.
Automatic bridge mode is supported with Arduino boards.
Bridge mode allows user to control the module with a
software serial library and with the same pin configuration
the robot can connect to the module using EasyVR
Commander from the PC. Figure 3 shows how EasyVR and
Arduino can be connected using four wires through ETX,
Bridge mode is the preferred connection mode, since it
makes the communication between the Arduino
microcontroller and the PC simpler.

5) When VRbot receives the character via wireless

communication the code on the rover performs
command which simply reads that character and begins its own
switch case execution.
Switch statement start
Case one: // Right
Read d from the port
Call right function
Exit the switch
Figure 3: Automatic bridge mode schema
The code above demonstrates the processing for a specified
character that has been read from a port. The right() function
has two parameters which correspond to the speed of left and
right track on the rove with possible values 1 255 (from
lowest to highest).
6) At this point the rover executes the command, physically
turns right and then stops (after character d is sent, f
character that corresponds to STOP is sent as well.
After the command is fully processed and executed and the
robot has finished moving, Break statement ensures that the
program will exit when the statement is encountered and will
not continue to loop through the cases in switch.

E. Programming
The voice recognition module is coded using the EasyVR
Commander software. First, the commands are recorded.
Second, recorded speech is linked to a VR module to command
the rover. Then the robot is programmed in the Arduino IDE
environment. Code is defined for each of the commands
trained previously.
Coding for the melodies is done in Arduino IDE, and
requires some knowledge about how to play notes and timing
issues. Before coding melodies, need a header file with list of
notes definitions, for example
#define NOTE_B0 31

D. Assembly

#define NOTE_C1 33

Rover was assembled according to the directions included

with the kit. The IO expansion shield and an XBee module
was mounted together. Then, headers were soldered onto
XBee shield, and the shield was placed on the Arduino.
VRbot speech recognition modules wires were connected,
along with the microphone and the speaker was hooked up
with Arduino board.
There are two modes in EasyVR on Arduino. These
modes are; bridge mode and adapter mode. With the adapter
mode, we can use the Arduino board as a Serial adapter by
pressing the reset button on the controller. We need to
Figure 4: Voice/Sound Wave

Next, iterate over the notes of the melody, calculating the

note duration. Function note() will produce a sound by
receiving corresponding pin number, note and duration. To
quit playing melody, function noTone() is used.
Finally, code uploaded and the melody is reproduced.
As an example, below we will describe Dance command
along with additional details on how it works.
Whenever user says Dance into the microphone the code
that is uploaded on Arduino Uno goes through a series of case
statements and looks for a corresponding number for Dance
case 13: // DANCE

Many elderly have difficulties with mobility that limit their

ability to get around. They are forced to rely on canes or
walkers that tend to be clumsy and difficult to store. The results
from our research will assist the elderly or physically
challenged to easily navigate to anywhere they wish using
voice commands. This resolves the mobility problems of
people who are immobile.


The group produced the following results:

Website was created in order to keep track of all the


4 main melodies and 1 test melody was coded,

uploaded and tested.

Initial Command Set:

When it finds case 13 it recognizes it as Dance and starts
going through every statement inside and executes it. (Number
13 corresponds to the number that is assigned to Dance
command during recording session). Inside the case we have
defined series of Serial.print() and delay() commands.
Whenever first Serial statement is executed the character is
transmitted to the VRbot for execution of the specific and
defined command: either right, left, forward, backward or stop.
Serial.print() allows for a character to become available on
a specific port and that is called on the VRbot
allows that available character to be read and processed.
Delay command ensures appropriate time that will be spent
by VRbot executing the command and also that no other
command will be send during this time.
VRbot has its own case statements to interpret the received
character and execute the appropriate command. There are two
additional variables defined in the code, leftspeed and
rightspeed they hold a value of 255 which means the highest
speed for each track.
The code snippet above shows a small part of the Dance
command that is a combination of right, left, forward,
backward moves that together form and closely mimic dance
movements in our opinion.


RIGHT made the rover turn right.


LEFT made the rover turn left.

3. FORWARD made the rover move


BACKWARD made the rover move

Additional Commands

1. STOP made the rover cease all


2. SPIN made the

continuously perform a

3. SQUARE made the rover

perform a set of movements that
mimicked the shape of a square.

4.DANCE made the rover play

melody first, and then perform a
predefined set of movements that
mimicked a dance performance.


Voice recognition was improved by using another

source of energy.

Finally, melody code was merged with the main code

in order to perform two actions after receiving
command dance: play music and then dance.

F. Social Implications
Voice control over devices is useful in various situations.
it can be used by disabled people to control tools or
machines which they have to use
voice control can make peoples lives easier since it
does not require any extra work like pushing buttons
to make machines move
therefore, voice controlled interaction is a promising
field to do research in


A. Comments
While working with EasyVR voice recognition module the
following observations were made:

All the parts have to be purchased at the same time

period, otherwise they may not work with each other
due to constant modifications.

Any old hardware may not work with the new

software or updated drivers.
Multithreading, a very important feature for the future
work, may be achieved using operating system, while
this is not an option with Arduino.
The robot will not detect the commands, unless the
environment is completely quiet.

program everything to make the robot move, dance and play


Figure 5: Wireless Communication



Our group had three primary goals. These goals included

implementing music feature, dancing feature, and improving
voice recognition. At this point we have implemented music
feature, dancing feature and improved voice recognition.
During our work we faced some challenges working with
voice recognition module while trying to implement dance
command for the dancing feature. All issues were resolved by
connecting Arduino correctly via Bridge Mode and using
alternative energy source for the voice recognition module.
One of the interesting things we have noticed during our
experiments with voice recognition is that whenever we have
been recording voice commands the speakers voice had to be
exact and quite static when pronouncing command name,
otherwise it may not be recorded at all. Also, when we were
actually testing recorded commands we have noticed that
sometimes the robot will not execute the command because of
the voice tone and intonation so we had to try several times
before we can speak with the right tone of voice. Overall, this
was very good practical experience with both hardware and
software sides where we had the chance to physically connect,
attach and solder the components to make it work and


One of the future extensions of this project will be a

merge with another autonomous robot control projects
which seeks to focus on using robot navigation
exploration to aid the elderly or physically challenged.

The next step is by implementing the sound, enable

robot to respond to the commands, thus, enabling the
people controlling the robot to have communication
with it.

Also, due to the limited amount of voice commands

that can be uploaded to the module (only 15) future
work involves seeking alternative module with a
higher capacity for commands

Among improvements, is enhancements to speech

recognition system, in order to enable to recognize not
only one person voice

Enabling voice detection even when other noises

around can be a good improvement for the future

Finally, we would include wireless communication

systems to transmit voice commands wirelessly
through the internet to the rover.

The authors would like to acknowledge previous semester
group work on this project as well as Dr. Sun, for providing all
the guidance and advising us during our work and research.
Also NASA for the funding this project



RobotShop, Building a speech controlled Arduino March 2011. robot-3684