Mona: an Affordable Open-Source Mobile Robot for Education and Research


Mobile robots are playing a significant role in Higher Education science and engineering teaching, as they offer a flexible platform to explore and teach a wide-range of topics such as mechanics, electronics and software. Unfortunately the widespread adoption is limited by their high cost and the complexity of user interfaces and programming tools. To overcome these issues, a new affordable, adaptable and easy-to-use robotic platform is proposed. Mona is a low-cost, open-source and open-hardware mobile robot, which has been developed to be compatible with a number of standard programming environments. The robot has been successfully used for both education and research at The University of Manchester, UK.


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This work was supported by the EPSRC (Project No. EP/P01366X/1 and EP/P018505/1), Innovate UK (Project No. KTP 009811), CONACyT and the National Nuclear Laboratory.

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Correspondence to Farshad Arvin.

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There are several modules which have been developed as the extension modules for Mona. They expand Mona’s applications in research studies. Figure 13 shows the Mona robots’ modules.

Fig. 13

Mona’s extension modules: a light module including two LDRs, b Mona’s ROS communication module, c Mona is equipped with a ROS module, d Raspberry Pi Zero module, e colour sensing and ambient light intensity module, and f design of inter-robot communication module

Figure 13a shows Mona that was equipped with a light sensing module. This module was used in MRAS lab activity and it was used for study on bio-inspired swarm aggregation scenario preseted in [48]. The second module shown in Fig. 13b is ROS communication board [45]. The module has been developed to study the feasibility of using ROS as the communication protocol for Mona, Fig. 13c. The ROS module contains a Teensy 3.2 board, a WiFi module and 4 LEDs. The next module shown in Fig. 13d which is a breakout board has been developed to connects a Raspberry Pi-0 board and Xbee module to the Mona robot. The plan was to use the Raspberry Pi board to add an image processing module and other functions which requires a fast and strong processing unit. Figure 13e shows the module which was developed to read RGB colours with Mona robot. The module communicate using I2C ports. It has two APDS-9960 RGB and Gesture sensors, which was developed for use with Arduino boards. The next module which is shown in Fig. 13f is a communication module which has been developed for inter-robot short-range communication.

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Arvin, F., Espinosa, J., Bird, B. et al. Mona: an Affordable Open-Source Mobile Robot for Education and Research. J Intell Robot Syst 94, 761–775 (2019) doi:10.1007/s10846-018-0866-9

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  • Mobile robot
  • Robotics for education
  • Open-hardware
  • Open-source