I have to take a moment to address a pet peeve of mine, a device with a human controlling its every move is not a robot.
I used to watch a television show called ‘Battlebots’. I don’t watch any television in the traditional sense, so I looked it up on line. I was not surprised that it appears to be still going on. When I first saw the show I thought it was cool, but then I started to feel sad for the robots. First these aren’t robots, they are just beefed up remote control cars. Sure it takes talent to build and operate one of these things, but why not go the distance and build one with out the remote control? Why don’t you guys let the robots off the leash and let them do battle in an honorable way? Robot vs. Robot.
I would prefer to see a contest where these same types of machines are set into an arena, the power switch is activated, and they go at it. It would be more about programing and construction, and less about who is the best operator. Oh and allow any weapon. Come on really take the gloves off.
At the other extreme are hobbyist who build robots where there is no real programing, the machines use an insect like intelligence to react to their environment. Check out solarbotics.net for more information. You basically turn them on and set them loose.
But honestly remote control cars are not robots, not mater how much you dress them up. I was in Wal-Mart a few months ago and there was a man sized robot roaming around the store, talking to customers. Because I am kind of knowledgable about what lengths big companies will go through to avoid liability I scanned around the immediate area looking for the operator. Sure enough, some guy with a hobby remote control and a microphone headset was about twenty feet away. Children would run up to the thing and declare, “Look mommy a robot!” I really wanted to correct them, but I didn’t.
When I set out to build my Rover bot I decided that it would be on its own to navigate life’s hazards. I also wanted it to be fully programable. This sets up an interesting problem. I can easily program the robot to do specific things, like go forward, turn right, etc… I can also program it to react to obstacles in a very specific and structured way. Like finding its way around by turning left at each obstacle. I don’t know, that doesn’t sound very sexy.
So I am working on different programing techniques to get the little thing to more more elegantly while avoiding obstacles in its path. This has proven to be quite difficult, but I have learned a lot. More importantly it’s a fun brain exercise.