6 S's of Capable Home Robots

I've been building robots for 20 years (I remember a time when this newsgroup didn't have any SPAM). I'm now focusing on a capable home
robot that can operate full size objects within the home. I came up with what I call the 6 S's of Capable Home Robots here:
http://www.imaginerobots.com
Comments?
Danh
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Nice list, but it is much easier said than done. I do disagree with one comment;
"There is absolutely no reason why we can't have capable robot in our homes TODAY. "
Many have tried, but it is certainly proving harder than it was first thought. On the drive to work, I've been listening to Podcasts of old radio broadcasts of science fiction stories from the 40's and 50's. They really were expecting us to have farms on mars, and robots doing all our housework by the 80's.
I suspect that, for the near future, the only things we can really hope for, will be a practical robot vacuum and a lawn mower. This just requires a bit more capability than current similar products; things like more navigational certainty, and visual processing to avoid obstacles. Autonomous robot airplanes for the military are relatively easy, since there is nothing for them to bump into.
Although true autonomous robots are a problem, I suspect there will be significant advancement in remote control ore teleprocessing "robots". This is where there are "brains" in a machine that help prevent it from driving off a step, but it will ultimately be operated by a much more advanced processor that God designed and placed in the skulls of human operators.
Joe Dunfee
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I accidentally hit reply to author instead of replying to the group so here's take two.
On Feb 22, 1:37 am, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

I can see most people disagreeing with the above statement since it hasn't been realized yet. The only way to back up the statement is for me to build it but that's the great thing about robotics.

I see a lot of technology today that could really make these bots real. WIFI, the internet, cheap computers, cheap actuators, wireless video, webcams, USB, micros, software IDEs, etc, etc, etc

here are two companies that make vision products: www.evolution.com www.braintech.com
I've used the stuff from Evolution and it is good enough to recognize objects in a fridge and pantry.

The PR2 from www.willowgarage.com takes the approach of teleoperation and vision processing. I'm kinda building a poor man's version of that bot. I do agree that ultimately a human operator needs to have the final control.

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Someone gave a lecture at CHAOS this year on this sort of subject. Their opinion was that insurance is the test. If you cannot insure a device that works autonomously, you will (probably) not be allowed to use it. The insurance companies have not enough data yet to quote.
An instance;
Someone has a robotic lawnmower (self-made) working in their garden, a stone hits one of the control boxes (perhaps by bouncing off one of the front tyres, not an unknown instance, even in human-controlled ones), vehicle goes haywire, gets out onto the public road, and is hit by, or hits, a car, or human.
(The above was solved in one real-life instance by the operator running after the device and turning it on its back. If you have to be in attendence the whole time, whats the point of having a robot?)
--
greymaus
.
.
...

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That's an interesting perspective. Suppose we replaced the autonomous lawnmower scenario with an owner's dog. If the dog runs into the street and causes an accident I wonder if it would be covered by home owners or auto insurance? Maybe neither???

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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Probably depends on the state ("no fault" car insurance) but if your dog bites someone, having homeowner's insurance sure would come in handy. If you don't have that you might be in a lot of trouble.
The lack of liability insurance is definitely why we don't see 200 pound robots roaming through the house doing the dishes or cleaning up after the cats. The iRobot is specifically lightweight so that it won't hurt toes or animals or fancy furniture.
-- Gordon
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wrote:

Safety training would be a requirement for owners of big robots. There are also ways to minimize risks by using distributive robotics. In one scenario a big robot with arms may be in a confined area and it would avoid humans (call it the shy robot). The shy robot could grab objects out of a fridge and then transfer those objects to a smaller/less powerful "butler" robot that could interface directly to people.
It still troubles me that I see robotic "experts" disregarding safety. Here's a video of MIT folks showing their socially interactive robot called Ripley to Allen Alda. It's disturbing how the robot is behaving unpredictably yet the researchers allow it to get so close to Allen's face.
http://www.hulu.com/watch/23328/scientific-american-frontiers-robot-pals
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

I'm having difficulty understanding why a robot is needed for this. I know it's just an example, but I don't think a clear case for a domestic robot can be made without first defining its role. Personal computers in homes didn't really take off until applications such as Visicalc were introduced; before then, they were strictly for the hobbyists.
No one is going to pay for a domestic robot that gets things out of the fridge. That's the sort of thing we robot builders do as an experiment, but it's not viable business.
-- Gordon
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wrote:

My opinion is another fifteen years in industry, another ten after that in commercial applications, then a very slow expensive creep into domestic. I build near full size bipeds and there is NO way mine roam unattended. Mechanics and brainpower are just not even remotely close, and sensor fusion and interface has Sooooooooooo far to go. I have had pretty good success in my small shop getting things working, but when things do go bad-It is BAD. Even machine less than 100 lbs make a really bad mess when they go down(notice I didnt say if). I have had more than a few instances this week. Just when you start gaining some confidence, thats when you get smacked in the face......or worse.
Mark
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What kind of stuff is in a full size biped?
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"Must be gold" according to my wife when she reads my credit card receipts...........
Mark
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wrote:

Fetching objects from a fridge could be helpful to people who have difficulty performing activities of daily living (ADL) such as walking. It falls into the category of an assistive technology.
Here's a list I started 2 years ago for a class listing 90 things a robot might do in the home. Anybody want to add to it? - don't think too hard, just brainstorm.
http://www.imaginerobots.com/robotasks1.jpg
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

While I agree with the basic premise, I don't think it's lack of leadership because coming up with a truly useful home robot that would be affordable would likely cost billions to develop, and the return is far from a known. In Japan, where they are closest to having domestic robots, to pay for their R&D they have instead turned to specific applications like elder care (homes, hospitals, nursing centers) because one robot could be shared or reasonably leased in order to spread out the costs. The environment is also more controlled - a robot is bound to be able to roll over the same flooring as an aged person in a walker.
Look at how long it's taken for someone to come out with a widely available set top PVR that also connects to the Internet for VOD, YouTube, and so on - the true bridge between a PC and a cable box. (What they have now is limited in market, capabilities, or both.) If it takes cable and satellite companies this long to figure out something that people would actually want to buy and have an immediate use for, I can't see that domestic robots would fare much better.
Great domain name, BTW!
-- Gordon
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wrote:

I believe I can make an affordable/capable home robot for "early adopters". Goal is to have a working prototype by the end of the year and on my website for all to see.
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Gordon:
I'm a bit more optimistic about home robots. I'd like to point people at:
<http://www.readybot.com/
The robot in videos (click on [Resouces] under Main Menu) costs about $9K. It is using some very expensive electronics that can be substantially cost reduced. Indeed, I think the main robot can be built for about $1.5K. (I'm not making this up, I've spoken with the ReadyBot team.)
I fully expect the first home robots will be for hobbyists and over time the market will expand from there. The personal computer market took several decades to reach the current confusing state of affairs and I expect home robots to follow a similarly tortuous path.
-Wayne
Gordon McComb wrote:

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The Readybot is the closest thing to a giant Heathkit Hero with capable arms. They better hurry up and come out with something folks can get their hands on before I do!
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

[much snippage]

Here's some more Readybot video:
Readybot at last nights HBRC meeting: <http://www.justin.tv/clip/08fd8ceb15a89e81 (Readybot starts about 3-4 minutes in.)
Readybot presentation from last month's HBRC meeting: <http://www.justin.tv/clip/460371437e2dd443 (Starts at about 10 minutes in.)
Enjoy.
-Wayne
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Thanks for sharing the videos.
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Wayne C. Gramlich wrote:

I had seen this recently and I thought it was a terrific 'bot.
Don't get me wrong: I'm not against the idea, but I feel the major stumbling block is presenting a good business case for a domestic robot. Even at $1,500 it's on the high end for hobbyists; there is simply no way the general public would pay $5K-10K that would represent the starting price for these - considering R&D, manufacturing, marketing, licensing (things like proven vision systems, and so on), liability insurance, and dealer markup.
I recall the Whitebox robot was going to come out under $2K. The panels alone cost about that. Things get expensive when A) the market is relatively small and B) the product has limited appeal and C) the tech pieces aren't quite there yet. For example, what mods would ReadyBot have to have in order to open a can of dog food? I guess a can opener attachment, then there's a question of what it needs to open a glass jar of baby food and another a large jar of pickles, and so on.
I view these kinds of products as germination for further research, but I question whether there's yet a market that could sustain itself.
Now, if you want to talk about burgeoning markets for robotics, there's a whole slew of teleoperated apps that are waiting to be tapped, bigger and better (and badder) sentry robots (probably less liability involved than guard dogs), human-interface assistants (i.e. Keepon, the subject of another thread here), and many others.
-- Gordon
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wrote:

When you talk about prices putting things out of reach everyone should remember what a Macs (and PC's) cost in the 80's. Seems to me they went for well over $5000 and seemed to sell. So what does $5000 then translate into todays costs? Computers were after all a "niche" item back then as robots are now. Toys sell for under a $1000, something usefull and reliable can sell for much more. Time and acceptance will bring the cost down so don't let price be such a scare point in your development. Build/design something usefull, keep the cost down if possible, but make it reliable first, cheap second. my 2cents worth
Monty
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