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[DPRG] Hello again DPRG. (Re-Introduction) and long message.

Subject: [DPRG] Hello again DPRG. (Re-Introduction) and long message.
From: blackstag blackstag at gmail.com
Date: Mon Apr 16 12:03:21 CDT 2012

Well I would not set to argue the points you bring up. Some I may not agree
with. The core of what you are describing is very true for advanced
robotics. Some some solutions exist that help mitigate this issue now that
did not exist before just a few years ago.  This is in part why I think we
have seen such a dramatic change in personal/hobby level robotics in the
past few years. This last Saturday we demoed a system that is very capable
and even drives some of the things you mentioned at the university,
industrial and hobby level. While it may not be the easiest for a beginner
to grasp. Some of that due to ease of use and cost. I believe ROS is what
you are looking for. It has a large foundation in making the basics of
robotics a simple task. It uses known platforms for its foundation and adds
sensor systems on top of it which then get processed by known solutions for
algorithms like SLAM, kinetics and what not. While  some basic knowledge of
those systems are required to troubleshoot issues related to them you do
not need as advanced knowledge as the person or team of persons that coded
said solution. The general idea is a common platform to build and produce
robots with out having to reinvent the wheel each time. For many years i
saw the same cycle in robotics that was great for the silos of knowledge
but not for the robotic community in general. A group of people or a person
would solve a problem show it then you saw nothing else of it
until someone else solved the same problem maybe years later. This cycle
has to stop. ROS is pushing for that cycle to stop and in that i support it
fully. Failure or not in its foundation, the knowledge that is now
freely available to the common man is so vast the silos of knowledge can
not stick the genie back in the bottle.

Start reading about it here.  http://www.ros.org/wiki  and
http://www.willowgarage.com/ . They have plenty of learning videos and docs
that explain what and who they are.  this is a video of me talking about it
at a recent meeting.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8zZoz4XEDA&feature=relmfu. One of this
month meeting should be posted soon which covers a Turtlebot in actual
use. Oh and of course its fully open source and under a very free use
license. With them you work witha team of hundreds with many of them
willing to help you at the drop of a hat as long as you know how to search
first and see if the answer has already been given.

If you are familiar with web development at all it seems they are trying to
be come the LAMP stack of robotics. Which radically changed that world and
helped produce the internet as we know today.

As you can tell i am rather passionate about this subject. Maybe is is
because i feel like a kid again where i know nothing is impossible.

I also look forward to any other responses.

DPRG Pres.

On Mon, Apr 16, 2012 at 11:15 AM, Brad garton <bgart at iadfw.net> wrote:

> I was in the DPRG when I lived in Dallas in 1998. I sort of competed (not
> very successfully) in the 1998 RoboRama. I moved to Austin and due to the
> nature of my job, I have spent very little time in robotics since then. I
> have always wanted to complete the design for Tom Servo that I started back
> in 1998.  The sensors and controllers available have changed over the years
> and I am currently trying to get back up to speed again.   That’s what I’m
> working on now. ****
> ** **
> My original interest in robotics came from visiting mit.edu cmu, and
> Stanford research sites. and I became very interested in Rodney Brook’s
> ideas on robot programming.  When I came to DPRG I discovered people like
> David Anderson had already implemented much of what I wanted to do, and
> these robots performed very well at least in a structured environment. I
> have continued to watch people progress in building personal mobile robots.
> ****
> ** **
> Now I have begun implementing again, and as I am older,  I want to
> consider the big picture (who knows how long I have to work on robots).
> One thing that has been observed is that the state of the Art in personal
> robotics has not progressed much from where it was in 1998. Is this true? I
> think there is at least some truth to the comment.  SR04 was and is, one of
> the most capable robots I have observed built by an individual.  Few of us
> have the skills to match that design, and we would do well to emulate
> David’s work, in my opinion.  However, what then? ****
> ** **
> Why is robotics so hard and why is it difficult to move the state of the
> art forward? If you look at research going on, in industry and the
> university, there are some new sensor designs available now  (Kinect, SICK
> etc) and some new techniques (SLAM) and these have been shown to be useful
> in the DARPA grand challenges for example. Not to mention the Quadrotor
> designs from UPenn.   All of these are very interesting developments to be
> sure.  All new since 1998. How can an individual hope to learn and
> implement robots that are more capable with the new techniques and
> technologies available now?****
> ** **
> I think robotics is hard for the neophyte and I have tried to think of why
> that is. Here are some things I came up with based on my own experience. *
> ***
> ** **
> **1.       **It spans multiple disciplines. ****
> **a.        **Programming ****
> **b.       **Mechanical Design ****
> **c.        **Embedded Systems Design ****
> **2.       **Why is robot Programming Hard****
> **a.        **It is not a typical Program, where system events are
> predictable, and functions proceed in an orderly sequential manner.  Events
> are by nature random, and multiple things need to be done apparently
> simultaneously. ****
> **b.       **It spans multiple programming Domains. ****
> **                                                               i.      *
> *Low level machine level programming ****
> **                                                              ii.      *
> *High level behavioral or AI programming. ****
> **c.        **We do not understand for the most part how the analogs in
> Nature work. ****
> **3.       **Why is the embedded system design problem harder than a lot
> of other embedded systems design****
> **a.        **Robots must carry everything with them.  Power, Computing
> Resources, Mechanical resources****
> **4.       **Why is the mechanical aspect of a robot design difficult? ***
> *
> **a.        **Dynamics****
> **b.       **Actuators are generally power hungry and not so efficient****
> **c.        **Environments are complex, not simple****
> **d.       **Need to use lightweight materials due to the problem of
> carrying everything with us. ****
> I came to robotics from a background in Electrical and Computer
> Engineering. The things I did in my work time were to design embedded
> systems and eventually I designed workstations for a 3 letter Acronym
> Company in Austin.  I feel like my skills circa 1998 were up to the
> Embedded System Design aspects of robotics.  They have atrophied
> considerably since then. ****
> Rodney Brooks’s ideas allowed us to implement a very simple “AI”, which
> was perfect for the environment of embedded system design in 1998, but
> perhaps we have hit the limits of that architecture alone. It would seem we
> need to develop higher level behaviors at the least.  I still think it can
> be part of a more capable robot, though I’m not so sure the behaviors we
> currently use are complete. ****
> ** **
> I was an ok programmer, but I was not prepared for the challenge I
> encountered in implementing my robots. I had zero experience in Mechanical
> design, past an engineering mechanics course in College.  The result was a
> capable embedded system, on poorly functioning mechanics that kept me from
> getting to the point of writing interesting Software.  I am correcting
> these problems now, and may get to the level of being able to complete
> RoboRama, given sufficient time, but I would like to hear some ideas on how
> to approach this problem in general. ****
> ** **
> In particular I want to consider teaming, or crowd sourcing robotics
> development.  It appears that we can progress more rapidly if we have more
> canned solutions for the basic problems of robotics, and rather than
> tackling the whole enchilada at once, combine skills in teams to produce
> functioning robots, with the key domains above represented.  What do you
> think?  I can see advantages and disadvantages but want to hear what the
> group thinks. ****
> ** **
> B****
> ** **
> ** **
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