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[DPRG] Robots in te news

Subject: [DPRG] Robots in te news
From: Chuck McManis cmcmanis at mcmanis.com
Date: Fri Nov 2 15:44:51 CST 2001

At 01:31 PM 11/2/01, Mike McCarty wrote:
>Since no one knows how people think, I believe you have set yourself an
>unachievable goal.

That would be true only if you also believe that no one will _ever_ know 
how people think.

It is essential that every roboticist have an "unachievable" goal to 
prevent them from achieving early success and losing interest. Given such a 
goal it becomes useful to break off "sub goals" that are more achievable. 
For example, build a platform that can balance on two feet. Or build a 
platform that can get from point A to point B and back again reliably.

My goal, established over 15 years ago was to build a robot that would, on 
voice command, come out from its recharging station, fetch me a cold Diet 
Dr. Pepper (replenishing the supply in the refrigerator if necessary), 
return to me with the beverage, wait for me to take it, and then return to 
its recharging hutch.

In 1984 this goal was "unachievable" because it was impossible to put 
enough compute power on the robot to navigate and drive manipulators and do 
vision processing. Today that can be handled by last years laptop.

In 1984 a set of Lead-acid batteries that could power the computer that 
could navigate the top floor of my house weighed about 52 lbs (2 x 12V car 
batteries) now the laptop carries just over two pounds of Li-ion batteries.

So the goal of building a thinking humanoid robot is a good one, it is 
currently difficult to do although there are working examples of the 
mechanics being possible. Given the rate of increase in mips/pound I think 
the software will be doable in 10 to 15 years as well.

--Chuck


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