Recently a friend of mine decided he was going to build a full scale Astromech Droid in the style of R2-D2. Being an artist and not having much experience with electronics or robotics he asked me to help with the technical bits.
The first thing we looked into was how to control the robot. Perusing Astromech.net showed that most builders use multi-channel radio remote controls and then add on custom multi-button controllers to control the dozens of lights, panels and other devices on your average Droid. One of the problems with this is that an 18-channel radio alone can cost upwards of $3,000 so I started looking into alternatives.
I had recently read about the Raspberry Pi all-in-one computer for $35. This small (around 2"x3") computer is a full-blown linux box (see this FAQ for details). This means it can run a web server. Also, my friend already owns an iPad.
So, the idea is to build a web-based, touch screen remote control using a Raspberry Pi and an iPad.
More to come...