Top 10 AI projects

By Lucy Hattersley. Posted

Bring your Raspberry Pi to artificial life with these machine learning projects, some of which are actual lifesavers. Lucy Hattersley is your guide.

Machine learning and AI are just a normal part of the world now, which in some ways is kind of hard to process. On the plus side, it means we can have computers do really fun, useful (and useless) stuff for us. Here are ten ways to get your Raspberry Pi to learn and do. 

There’s Waldo!

Robot cartoon-hunter

Waldo – or Wally as we call him in the UK – is a very elusive man who likes to travel around the world. The puzzle books asking young folks to find Wally in a busy crowd of people are very popular and can be tricky to solve; that is, unless you’re an AI character hunter.

There's Waldo robot cartoon character hunter

Formula Pi

Self-driving racers

A lot of Raspberry Pi robots aren’t autonomous – the Formula Pi racers are, though: using computer vision and your own bits of code, the aim is to make your robot the fastest and most accurate racer.

MonsterBorg robots being used at a Formula Pi autonomous racing event

Seeing wand

Magical item identifier

This project uses Microsoft’s Cognitive Services to look at a picture for identification. When it works, it’s pretty magical; however, it doesn’t always work. Still, it will then use text-to-speech software to tell you what’s in front of you. A future product for blind people, maybe?

Seeing Wand checks items held in front of it against an image database and then announces what they are

Raspberry Turk

Computer chess IRL

The ‘Mechanical Turk’ was a magic trick where chess players would manipulate mechanical arms to make it look like people were facing a machine that could play chess. The Raspberry Turk is no magic trick – it does it for real.

Raspberry Turk mechanical chess opponent

Cucumber sorter

Computer-aided vegetable categorisation

One of the promises of AI is that it can help people out with more mundane parts of work. The cucumber sorter allows a farmer to quickly and efficiently categorise his cucumber harvest. We’ve seen it in action and it is fun.

Better than a bean counter, this device efficiently sorts out your veg as you harvest it

UBC Sailbot

Self-driving boat

Using GPS and a series of sensors and motor controllers, the Sailbot is one of a few autonomous sailing-boats that makes use of Raspberry Pi to control itself in races around the world.

The UBS Sailbot is one of several Raspberry Pi-controlled yachts

Just Keep Swimming

Fish-controlled robot tank

Living in a fish bowl must feel a bit limiting. So Alex Kent decided to allow his goldfish to move with the help of a computer vision project that senses where the fish is swimming, and moves its tank accordingly. Does it notice? Or just forget?

Just Keep Swimming mobile fish tank heads whichever the direction its resident does

C-Turtle

Land-mine clearing project

This incredible project uses a low-cost robot design to probe abandoned (and extremely dangerous) minefields by sniffing out the mines and then detonating them. While this does result in each robot’s heroic demise, it’s much more cost-effective than other solutions.

The C-Turtle landmine-clearing robot detects and safely detonates hidden explosives

Autonomous Quadcopter

Self-driving drone

This project didn’t quite achieve full autonomy for a quadcopter/drone, but it got pretty close. Maybe you can build upon this design and create incredible aerial spectacles with a few drones?

This University of Warwick quadcopter came tantalisingly close to functioning autonomously

Stent-testing robot

Testing breathable tubes

Stents are little tubes used to keep a patient’s airway open. As they are vital, they need to be tested to extremes – this robot is able to control clamps that squish and compress the stent hundreds of thousands of times and monitor if and when it breaks.

Stents keep patients' airways clear. This robot rigorously tests them

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