Virtual Commander - Generic Software Robot Control


mt_ignore Wireless
Serial Control
PC Control

The Virtual Commander software is a piece of software designed to mimic the ArbotiX Commander. This is a small demo application written in Processing/Java. This application allows you to control InterbotiX robots as if it were connected to a real ArbotiX Commander as if it were connected to a real ArbotiX Commander. This can be very handy for rapid development, as you can program and control the ArbotiX over the same USB-FTDI connection, switching back and forth between the Arduino IDE and the Virtual Commander

The Virtual Commander is an Edge program. Edge programs and firmware are offered with limited support and documentation. They are experimental and offered 'as-is' for advanced users.

Project Parts List:

The Virtual Commander is designed for use with any of the following ArbotiX-M Robocontroller based InterbotiX Robots. It will also work with any ArbotiX Commander compatible robot.


The wiring of the DYNAMIXEL servos and power supply will vary based on which robot you are working with - see your assembly guide for details. You will need to connect your ArbotiX-M Robocontroller to your computer via the FTDI-USB cable, and keep it plugged in while controlling the robot.

Connection diagram for ArbotiX Robocontroller to Virtual Commander
Pin Device
FTDI Port USB-FTDI Cable or UartSBee
DC Jack SMPS Power Supply, Battery, or other 11-12v power
If you are using a UartSBee or other USB-XBee device, you can also connect wirelessly from your computer to your robot. The UartSBee and XBee modules will act as a wireless replacement for the USB-FTDI cable.
  • Configure your XBees
  • Plug one XBee into your UartSbee and plug the UartSbee into your computer
  • Plug the other XBee into your ArbotiX Robocontroller
  • Connect the Virtual Commander to the serial port the UartSbee is on

Download Code:

Download Virtual Commander Software for PC/Mac/Linux

Each InterbotiX Robot has special firmware that will allow it to receive commands from an ArbotiX Commander. Whether the commander is a real ArbotiX Commander or the Virtual Commander, the firmware for the robot will always be the same. Download the Commander-Compatible firmware for your robot from the list below.

Unzip the file and open the sketch in the Arduino IDE. Now load the sketch onto the ArbotiX-M Robocontroller. If you have problems loading your code onto your ArbotiX-M, see the ArbotiX Getting Started Guide

Once you've downloaded the Virtual Commander zip file, find the appropriate version for your computer (application.windows32 for Windows users, applications.macosx for mac users, applications.linux32 for linux users)

Before you launch the application, make sure that you have your USB-FTDI Cable plugged into your computer. The Virtual Commander will not recognize the Cable/Robot if you plug it in after you start the program: you will need to re-start the program.

Once your robot is plugged into your computer, you can launch the Virtual Commander Application. From the drop-down menu, choose the serial port associated with your Robot Turret (the same port used to program the ArbotiX-M).

Once connected, you can press on one of the 8 pushbuttons to activate those functions. You can press on different points on the 'joysticks' to pan/tilt the turret.

When you are done controlling the turret, hit the disconnect button. You will not be able to program the ArbotiX as long as the Virtual Commander is connected.

For information on how the commander buttons/joysticks move the robot, see the corresponding guide in the normal Commander Guide for your robot.


If you have problems opening the application, make sure you have Java installed. Alternativley, you may wish to build the application in the Processing Environment. You will need to download

Install the Control P5 Library and the open the .pde file in the Virtual Commander File

Please see this note if you are using this program on a Mac OS computer.


PC Control These demos and projects allow the robot to be controlled via a computer.

ArbotiX Commander Control - These demos and projects control the Robot using the ArbotiX Commander, the handheld Arduino based remote control.

Direct Control - These demos and projects control the Robot directly from sensors connected directly to the Robot's control board.

Pose Control - These demos and projects allow you to create and playback a sequence of poses.

Serial Control - These demos and projects control the robot using a serial packet protocol.

Standalone - These demos and projects are deisgned to let your robot function without a computer or additional microcontroller.

Wireless Control - These demos and projects allow you to control the robot wirelessly - usually by replacing the Serial Connection with XBee modules.

Reference - These articles have technical details regarding the control and operation of the robot.


More info here