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[DPRG] Work with researchers?

Subject: [DPRG] Work with researchers?
From: Quinones, Jose jquinones at ti.com
Date: Wed Jan 6 06:15:21 CST 2010

This is a good topic!

My question is, why separate the hobbyist from the researcher? In essence, a hobbyist can be a researcher! A rehobbysearcher!

Yes, you did mention the lack of funds and resources, but there is a ton of stuff we can research on for which you require zero funding. WHAT??? ZERO FUNDING??? AM I NUTS???

Take for example, the fact that robotics is a lot of hardware, but what it is the most, is software. You can come up with a gazillion techniques to do dynamic PID algorithms, computer vision, neural net or adaptive networks. Why do you need funding for this? You can take your nights at home, code different sets of algorithms and quantify which one works the best.

Then you can take those findings and post them on forums so that the entire planet can benefit from them (including the open source material so other rehobbysearchers can expand on it). There is a fair number of forums out there for robotics, although the great majority of them concentrate on trivial things like "what board to buy" and "why my driver is not working". So that is the problem we should solve first. A forum for rehobbysearchers!

Funding should not be an excuse. When a PhD at a university gets a few hundred thousand dollars, this is not just used to buy fancy and expensive equipment. A good chunk of this goes to pay a "dinky little bit" to the professor himself as well as the research students.

So I think that with minimal cash we can become researchers as well. Am sorry, rehobbysearchers ;-)

Best regards,


Texas Instruments - Applications Engineer

13560 North Central Expressway


Dallas TX, 75243

Office: 1-214-567-7275

Mobile: 1-214-240-3179

-----Original Message-----
From: dprglist-bounces at dprg.org [mailto:dprglist-bounces at dprg.org] On Behalf Of Randy M. Dumse
Sent: Tuesday, January 05, 2010 8:14 PM
To: dprglist at dprg.org
Subject: [DPRG] Work with researchers?

Hi gang, toss one out here, some blue sky thinking, here.

Inspired by listening to David Hanson's interview on KERA.

Do you suppose there's any purpose in trying to align hbbiest

with robotics researchers?

I know we've all got our heros in Robotics. We read about their

work, and think these guys are on an interesting path, and we

might even try to emulate their work. Many of these are in

academia, and so they have a supply of students to work on their

projects. But what they don't have are steady workers who stick

with them more than a semester, to a few years, before they

graduate and move on. Well, that keeps fresh blood rolling in.

But it also may mean people with developed skills might not be

available, and they have to keep "rebuilding their human tools"

every time they get a new, unexperienced student.

I guarantee you, every one of these researchers will have some

odd ball idea or other for robotics projects they'd like to

explore if only they had the time and personnel to put on it.

Now it may be they'd not be receptive to outside help for a

number of reasons. Primary being it if took more of their time

than it saved. But there are other reasons. Lack of control.

Lack of funding. Lack of availability of critical equipment.

Lack of time to give guidance. But it also might be, they'd love

a volunteer hand, and have never considered asking.

To give myself as an example, my students did a bit of playing

with the CMUCam. They got a sumo that tracked a color. But the

search algorythm only turned one direction if it lost the

object. I'd love to see that algorythm extended. I have one of

those expensive IMU's dpa used in his robots. I'd love to see

the software interface worked out. I posted about my "Mind over

Matter" experiment ideas, where we take two identical sumos,

give one a physical advantage and test to prove it became

superior, then give the other a programatic change and see if it

could overcome a physical disadvantage. That would prove what we

all suspect, but no one has ever proved, that "mind" alone in a

robot can overcome "matter". It's one of those ideas that might

lead to a pivotal paper oft quoted in the industry.

So if we had a mechanism of hooking up dedicated hobbiest who

like to tinker anyway, and would like some ideas to work on,

with reseachers who might be able to use the help, and maybe

offer some credit in the literature for their volunteers... Does

that sound like a useful path anyone would like to pursue?



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