Vision devices are currently one of the most widely used sensory elements in robots: commercial autonomous cars and vacuum cleaners, for example, have cameras. These vision devices can provide a great amount of information about robot surroundings. However, platforms for robotics education usually lack such devices, mainly because of the computing limitations of low cost processors. New educational platforms using Raspberry Pi are able to overcome this limitation while keeping costs low, but extracting information from the raw images is complex for children. This paper presents an open source vision system that simplifies the use of cameras in robotics education. It includes functions for the visual detection of complex objects and a visual memory that computes obstacle distances beyond the small field of view of regular cameras. The system was experimentally validated using the PiCam camera mounted on a pan unit on a Raspberry Pi-based robot. The performance and accuracy of the proposed vision system was studied and then used to solve two visual educational exercises: safe visual navigation with obstacle avoidance and person-following behavior.
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