How do you process sensory information?

I have a general question. How do you handle sensory data? I've been wrestling with bui9lding robots for about 10 years now and I always run
up against this problem, I can build a competent robot platform, write the software to control it, and design and build some pretty sophisticated sensors, but software to handle the data always hangs me up.
Right now i have four robots with basically the same design, i used a BattleBot body for the base, a micro processor (one has a BS2P, one has a BASIC ATOM PRO, one has a DIOS and one has a PSOC chip with FORTH on it - I'm comparing and I got into a building frenzy - it's summer break), and a two servo tilt and pan deal with a SHARP IR ranger (The digital one for the STAMP and PSOC, Analor for the ATOM and DIOS).
What I am finding is that you can generate an enormous volume of data with this arrangement. I was wondering what some of you all have done in these situations.
I realize that this is probably the biggest issue in robotics, making sense of the environment. This makes sense to me, the biggest part of most animal brains is the sensory parts.
What are some thoughts on this?
chris in napa
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Determine your goal. What behaviours do you want from your robot. Data analysis has to be goal orientated. I use a video camera for input and that is a lot of data! The trick is to throw most of it away except that which is required for the task at hand.
John Casey
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chris burns wrote:

This is why I like subsumption architecture and other forms of reactive programming. By reacting to specific sensor states your robot can have extremely complex behavior with less programming.
I am currently creating a Java framework for behavioral programming. http://enerd.ws/robots /
Right now I'm working on the behavioral programming layer (I have it mostly working, but I won't post it until I have debugged -- hopefully within a few days).
I'm working in Java because I'm using a Systronix JStik http://www.jstik.com / which runs Java bytecodes natively. -- D. Jay Newman
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I would suggest looking into Rodney Brooks' Subsumption Architecture (uh oh! flame war coming!).
Among other things, it is a nice way to look at filtering input data to present to other layers in order to implement goals.
Here is a page with some good Subsumption links:
http://www.oricomtech.com/misc/robolnk5.htm
-Shane
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