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[DPRG] How much do our choices effect our results?

Subject: [DPRG] How much do our choices effect our results?
From: Randy M. Dumse rmd at newmicros.com
Date: Thu Aug 2 19:56:19 CDT 2007

I was reading Murphy's "Introduction to AI Robotics" last night,
and saw a section on sonar sensors and their occassionally
problematic operation.

I was trying with Travis Trotman to do his red octbot, and we
were using a SRF04 ranger, and found, much to my surprize, it
was thoroughly lost in one of our table top arenas. We did a
circular scan hoping to find the corners of the arena, and the
bounces and discontinuities were so awful, we really couldn't
use them for navigation. 

So thinking about jBot and its successes, and dpa's arrangement
of Polaroid type sensors, it caused me to wonder if jBot's
success wasn't largely in the choice of sonars. If dpa had
chosen SRF04's, would have jBot been at all successful? I have
my doubts.

I have no doubt if dpa had chosen 4-wheel drive instead of
6-wheel drive, or if he'd chosen Ackerman Steering over Skid
steering, jBot would have still be a success. That is not to say
there wouldn't have been differences, but that they could have
been easily overcome. True, it would have been a different
robot. But it would have still be a fairly capable outdoor
journeying bot.

Likewise, if dpa had used the original motors with encoders on
the wheels (as Dr. Huff did), or if he used something other than
the Pitmans he chose, or even Pitmans with a different gear head
ratio, etc., jBot would still have been a success. 

So what I am suggesting for discussion, is, how much of our
choices critical in robot design, and how many really don't
matter much, and how are we to know the difference? Anybody else
ever pondered this?


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