The NOMAD project was a robotics system being developed by a technology start-up called Victus Robotics in 2010. The company had received funding to develop a robotic platform, inspired by several NASA interplanetary missions, but which would be used in terrestrial application and which would be affordable for personal use.
The goal was to construct something which could be mass-produced at under $1000/unit, which contained remotely controlled motors and cameras (and possible other sensors) and which could operate entirely through the existing GPRS or 3G cell phone network. Because it was intended for remote locations, it would be powered by solar panels and deep-cycle batteries.
The benefits of such a system are obvious. It could be used as a security camera for remote cabins or construction sites. Smaller research groups could use them for studying dangerous locations. Rescue teams could use them to search through debris or large areas of terrain.
At one point there were discussions about making it sturdy enough to actually drive some distance to the destinations, although questions arose about the legalities of an unmanned vehicle travelling long distances. Initial plans were also developed for upgrades to firmware and hardware to allow for semi-autonomous operation.
Unfortunately the company folded before the project could be completed. Perhaps it was too ambitious, or perhaps the economic down-turn and problems in the tech sector made such projects unattractive to investors. Whatever the reason, the project died.
As part of the design phase of the Nomad project, consultants with a background in engineering and robotics were hired. I had been doing some work at the time in hobby robotics and microprocessor programming, and so I was asked to participate.
When the project folded, I received most of the intellectual properties that had been developed (prototype circuit designs, AI algorithms, etc) in lieu of payment. I still believe that this project can be made workable, but that it needs to be approached by a smaller team over a longer period of development. And it needs to be made open source to really bring it into widespread acceptance.
To that end, I am continuing work on the project in my spare time. I expect sometime in the next few months to set up a donations page,as well as organize volunteers with engineering or programming skills to aide in the development.
More information will follow soon (I hope)