6 S's of Capable Home Robots

On Mar 9, 9:21pm, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:


I think the basic software already exists. Look at www.evolution.com. They have the vision recognition software along with the Northstar system for absolute coordinates. I have their top of the line ERSP development system and it is pretty good at recognizing objects that have lots of features. They also have VSLAM built into their software that I haven't used yet.
I have a list of 90 things that a robot could do and most of these things require arms.
I predict that within 1 to 2 years we'll have a robot like the Readybot available to hobbyist because I'm gonna be the one that makes it happen ;-)
Danh
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

It's surprising that someone doesn't make a robotic vacuum cleaner which is at least smart enough to deal reliably with common floor clutter like door thresholds and cords. The Roomba/Scooba line is just too dumb to take over routine cleaning chores.
                John Nagle
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Wayne C. Gramlich wrote:

Personal robots are still not happening, but great progress is being made on killbots.
I recommend reading "Wired for War, The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century", by P. W. Singer. This will give a sense of just how far military robotics has come in the last few years. If you haven't been following this, you may have no idea how many thousands of military robots have already been deployed.
For a sense of what's coming in the near future, search for "Legged Squad Support System". This is the production version of Big Dog. It's not even an R&D program; it's out of DARPA's Tactical Technology Program, which means it's one step from being fielded and used in combat.
                    John Nagle
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Wayne C. Gramlich wrote:

We are and we aren't. What I'm trying to say is that the domestic robot that people envision requires a hefty R&D allocation that - frankly - even a group of dedicated hobbyists can't readily overcome. Been there, done that. The concept of a domestic robot is hardly new, yet for over 30 years we've barely made a dent in progress. There are reasons for this.
What we do have NOW is a great learning tool, and the hobbyist market (alive but not as well as it was in 2000) certainly exists. What I'd like to see is more development of the things that make practical sense, that propel us one step at a time. People are still running line following contests because it has a meaningful goal.
I'm not saying we should all stagnate just with the 10-15 year old challenges, but we're not even mounting a good defense against those - many robots fail a line following test as the line gets more complicated, or travel gets faster. I only shudder thinking of the 100X or 1000X complications of what a domestic robot needs to do. (And like I said, when people don't have successes, they tend to just find another area of interest.)

I'd say this isn't a hobbyist product as much as an educational product. In fact, at least in my experience, what you call the hobbyist market is really education. I'd say 80%+ of the sales I get at Budget Robotics are to schools and students. They are "hobbyists" in the general sense, but they aren't just playing. They hope the skill and knowledge they acquire with platforms like RoboOne will someday land them a good job in robotics or an allied field.
Because they are investing in their education the budget adjusts for it. I don't think they'd sell the RoboOne's they do just to guys and gals at home with too much money on their hands.
Your user group is a little skewed as a representative segment of the market. I know the one we had in San Diego, while it lasted, was the same way. Funnily enough, it was the students that sometimes came in that didn't stay around. They didn't have the time!
-- Gordon
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Gordon McComb wrote:

In the PC industry, those dedicated hobbyists went and formed a whole bunch of companies that eventually became Fortune 500 companies and generated the hefty R&D allocation that pushed the PC industry where it is today. I agree that the domestic robot of 30 years hence will have lots of R&D invested in it. Will it be hobbyists that form the companies that dominate the space or will it be big existing companies that you see today?

I totally dispute that. (It might worth starting another thread.) By just about any metric I can think of, the hobbyist robotics market is substantially better today than in 2000.
> certainly exists. What I'd

I'm totally into incremental improvements. I expect the first domestic robots to be pretty pathetic.
> People are still running line

Some move on and others stick it out. We have members of the HBRC that have been around since 1982, 25+ years.

Actually, I have not figured out who is buying RoboOne's. They are extremely hot in Japan though.

Maybe we are skewed. HBRC was pretty dead in the early 90's and it got revived by basically one person.
-Wayne
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Wayne C. Gramlich wrote:

We've already discussed this. Personal computers were easily scaled, and the garage enterprise was possible. Even IBM built the PC on *existing* hardware. They simply assembled it into a box and put their name on it. The existing hardware we use today for robotics (Sharp sensors, hobby servo motors) are well short of making a useful domestic robot.
I agree that the domestic robot of 30 years hence will

More than likely when a domestic robot becomes a reality it'll be from an offshoot of R&D for a product that had a buying market and economic reality. The problem with this is that it hinges your success on someone elses, and you're not really innovating. You're just adapting what someone else figured out, and made economically feasible through another market. That's okay, but the wait for this might be a long one. (And it has been so far.)
Please keep in mind I'm not talking about research or pursuing the pleasure of a rewarding hobby. Those are reasons enough to play.
But I draw the line in thinking construction of a workable domestic robot is within the technological grasp and budget you claim. We wouldn't be having this discussion if it were really possible to build a safe and reliable robot capable of real house chores at a price people would be willing to pay. If that were the case these products would already exist.
(Just as an example of the difficulties ahead, I recall you have kids, so I think you'll appreciate this challenge. I don't know what ReadyRobot weighs, but let's remember that kids like to be in the kitchen, and that's where a domestic robot is the most useful. The issues of guaranteeing safety around children, even older ones, is substantial. Even if you could somehow design the perfectly safe robot, I doubt you'd get many ordinary moms and dads to see it as an engineering marvel.
To them, having their kids around a robot of the size and girth needed for household chores would be like letting them play in a sandbox with black widow spiders. That worry ALONE will keep adoption of domestic robot at a very low level for a long, long time. And woe be to anyone involved in the first robot that topples over a child and injures or kills it. Think the Dymaxion. Instant end of a once-promising industry.)
-- Gordon
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wrote:

Safety is a huge issues but I think it can be dealt with. The robot can be surrounded by a bunch of padded bump sensors that are connected to a low level safety circuit that can't be bypassed by high level code. The robot could look like a giant set of stacked inner tubes (imagine the Michelin Man). The robot would move really slow. The robot would beep, have flashing lights, ESTOP buttons, etc etc. There a bunch of other ideas I'm sure people could contribute to help with robot safety. It can all be part of a community fostering ideas about improving the system.
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Gordon McComb wrote:

[snip PC analogy]

I'm afraid I disagree here. I think all of the hardware for building a hobby grad domestic robot exists today. Much of the mechanical hardware can be found in good ol' McMaster Carr. The electronics can be purchased from a multitude of distributors.
I will agree that a arm built out of hobby servos that can barely hold an empty soda can is not very interesting. Mind you Lynxmotion will sell you one that can lift up to 13-oz.

Far more likely that some hobbyists will just build one to show off to their friends.

I never said anything about safe or reliable. I think the initial hobbyist grade domestic robots will be neither safe nor reliable. If you have small children, keep them away. The first ones will be about as reliable and safe as a model-T Ford.

The hobbyist could care less if their robot is kid safe. They can keep the kids away from the robot separated for safety.

Any parent that exposes the kid to an unsafe conditions, should have their child custody privileges removed.
I think a commercially successful domestic robot needs to be safe and reliable, but that comes later.
-Wayne
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Wayne C. Gramlich wrote:

Yes, and it's embarrassing. Robotics competitions in Japan are way ahead of that. See "http://www.robots-dreams.com /".
There's been enormous progress in computer vision in the last five years, and the hardware isn't expensive. That needs to filter down to the hobbyist level. More hobbyists need to be reading IEEE Trans. on Robotics.
The toy industry is doing better. Look at WowWee.
    http://www.wowwee.com
WowWee, out of Hong Kong, delivers rather impressive hardware for around $100.
                John Nagle
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John Nagle wrote:

Agreed. However, the IEEE annual rate of $169 plus $21 for a Robotics and Automation Society membership, can be a little steep for the hobbyist.
<http://www.ieee.org/web/membership/Cost/dues.html
If you have access to technical university library, you might be able to read them by visiting the campus library.
-Wayne
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John Nagle wrote:

I think only to you because you're not thinking as a new learner. Kids still need a starting point, and establishing a fundamental baseline is a principle in any educational endeavor.
Japan may or may not have an edge, but until recently their economy was in better shape than ours and they could do more with their money. Things change and priorities reset. The US has lagged FAR behind many countries in allocation of funds for education. What you're seeing has much more to do with the lower value American taxpayers give to educational goals.
-- Gordon
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Wayne C. Gramlich wrote:

I wanted to address this part separately as I think this paragraph misses a critical point. The idea of a PC is that an ordinary person can adopt it to his or her work - *anyone* can make money with it, not just someone selling back to the same small audience they bought from in the first place. The ability to justify the acquisition makes even thousands of dollars palatable. Hobbyists don't need the same kind of justification. They spend money for other reasons.
The vast majority of people who ended up buying a PC never read Byte, 80 Micro, or any of the other magazines of the time, or walked into a Byte Shop. A truly functional domestic robot is aimed at the same user. That user is expecting a qualitative cost-value ratio, and that ratio is highly unlikely to occur in the way PCs translated from hobbyist trinkets to mainstream markets. (Which is why, after decades, it still hasn't happened.)
In closing, I liken this whole discussion to building a rocket to send humans to Saturn just because the Wright Brothers demonstrated their airplane at Kitty Hawk. Saturn is technically possible but not realistically feasible at this time. However, that shouldn't stop people from developing what they can now, proving the technology, and moving forward one logical step at a time.
-- Gordon
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Gordon McComb wrote:

[snip rocket analogy]
Gordon:
Again, I am talking about hobbyists and you are talking about post hobbyists. Until people developed word processing and spread sheet software, the original PC's were basically useless. None-the-less, hobbyists continued to purchase them. There was a thriving market for S100 boards to build out these hobbyist machines.
-Wayne
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