Programming a Local GPS Navigation System into a Mobile Robot

Hello World,
I am in a college robotics club and I would like to make a robot that can navigate locally (like in one corner of a room to another or from
one room to another, for starters). It would be awesome if it could respond to voice commands or simple inputs like "office" or "commons" and be able to know where to go. I would like to be able to program a "mini map" of the environment or create some way of the robot moving around it's environment and "learning" where things are located (perhaps via sensors and memory of location points?).
I am not exactly sure where to start or how realistic this is. I think Rodney Brooks at the MIT AI Lab has worked on similar things using mobile and walking robots. I suppose this might be similar, but I am just not sure where to start in getting this going and what the prerequisite knowledge to undertaking this would be.
I have some programming experience in C++ and will be exploring Scheme/ Lisp in the coming weeks so I am flexible to whatever language is needed to most efficiently get this going. I would like the language not to be too limited, however. I currently have a Laptop with Linux installed onto it that I was planning to use as the robot "brain" and hook this up to little motors and wheels, etc. on some sort of base/ platform that I can use to program it to move. I would need to get sensors so that it doesn't bump into things as it is moving about.
I would ideally like it to be able to have a decent map of how to get here and there while also using the sensors to do obstacle avoidance.
Also-- are there any competitions, national or international, that this type of robot could be enrolled? It would be nice to have some type of standard/structure/format to guide me/my club as we try to build this robot.
Cheers!
-Yama
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Google is your friend. These topics come up frequently, and a little homework will uncover much information. However, in robotics, as many other fields, what may at first seem to be a trivial problem often turns out to be much much harder than you thought !
I'm not trying to discourage you, merely suggesting that you should first research what others have achieved or failed to do. If all else fails, there are actually books on most of these topics...
have fun !
Dave
circlechess wrote:

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circlechess wrote:

Look into the FIRST annual competitions of robotics.
Sonar is probably the cheapest way to map a room. GPS won't work inside, and has too coarse a resolution anyway.
If you mostly want to explore high-level programming, you might consider just buying a mobile base, otherwise you'll have to work through the drives, electronics, and controls (which is also fun).
You'll need to decide whether the brains travel with the bot, or control remotely. Many really good processor boards exist that can run pretty complex programs, check the AVR AT series.
Mike
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I will mention the Rovio robot by Wowe (makers of RoboSapian). It is not out yet, but should be out later this year. It features an indoor navigation system that is based on a camera on the robot that is aimed up. On the base station is a LED that projects a pattern onto the ceiling.
There are some videos demonstrating it on YouTube when it was shown at the CES show.
I don't know if the Rovio will be programmable or if the navigation system will be easily hackable. The navigation system is originaly by Evolution Robotics http://www.evolution.com/products/northstar /
Joe Dunfee
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