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[DPRG] Robots in te news

Subject: [DPRG] Robots in te news
From: Tom Gralewicz mot at ieee.org
Date: Fri Nov 2 13:00:45 CST 2001

I'm with Chuck.  As half of the team that built Orto of Borg and 
Builder/driver of T.U.S.K (a light weight Battlebot)  I think both are fun 
and challenging.  At this point in the game I think its a good thing that 
robots of all classes are getting more press.


At 09:59 AM 11/2/01 -0800, you wrote:
>Blake wrote:
>> > IMHO,
>> > It seems much harder to build a robot that thinks on its own than to 
>> build a
>> > robot that you control.  (Anyone) could build a spinning piece of 
>> metal and
>
>And Ralph responded:
> > I'm with you! I don't consider the radio-controlled machines
> > to be robots, but I guess "robot" is a handy term to spare mass
> > media writers some effort when reporting these events.
>
>Lee Felsenstein, the guy that invented the Sol-20 computer way back when, 
>calls them 'Golems' rather than 'Robots' as a way of distinguishing their 
>nature.
>
>However, having been where Blake is (they're just armored R/C cars) and 
>having gotten past that to actually build one, now four, I have found that 
>I can no longer share Blake's opinion.
>
>It is _not_ easier to design a mechanism to move energy from one platform 
>into another.
>It is _not_ easier to design control electronics for hundreds of amps of 
>current.
>It is _not_ easier to design pneumatic actuation systems that are impact 
>resistant.
>
>These are very hard problems to do well and are two of the three legs of 
>the "True Robotics" tripod (Software, Hardware, Mechanics). They are just 
>as hard as writing software that does path planning through a cluttered 
>field, the difference is that they use another skill set.
>
>To build a competitive combat "robot" is just as difficult and just as 
>rewarding as building a "thinking" robot. The pejorative comment "(Anyone) 
>could build a spinning piece of metal ..." might easily be turned around 
>to say "Anyone could build a wall hugging maze solver." But the MicroMouse 
>folks have taking maze solving to a place where its serious software to 
>get right, and darn difficult to become competitive. The same is true for 
>BattleBots type robots.
>
>In one sense Blake is absolutely correct, anyone _can_ put a spinning 
>piece of metal on a box with a couple of motors hooked up to an R/C 
>receiver and a couple of COTS speed controllers. However, that mechanism 
>will be quickly and easily defeated by someone who has developed some 
>expertise in building these kinds of machines. Just like anyone could 
>build a wall following maze solver but it would be beaten easily by a maze 
>solving robot using full quadrant obstacle sensing.
>
>So before you conclude, as I had, that its a "sport" of hooking up the 
>pieces and fancy marketing, go through the exercise of designing a 
>competitive bot. You may be surprised, I certainly was.
>
>--Chuck
>
>
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Tom Gralewicz
mot at ieee.org

Midwest Computer Recyclers
www.dead-computers.com
(414) 541-1716


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