White Box Robotics Pre-order

Hello,
White Box Robotics is a great idea, and one that a number of people have been working on for some years. I wish Tom every
success in his venture.
I spent many years making my living as a professional musician and composer. Some of the tenor of this discussion reminds me of the early years of electronic music, especially with the introduction of synthesizers (Moog, Arp, Putney, Buchla) in the late 60's and early 70's. That spawned an enormous amount of creativity in the same way that the microprocessor and advances in sensor technology have goosed the field of experimental robotics 30 years later.
Part of the excitement at that time centered around the idea that this new technology would take "music making to the masses." The concept was that now folks would be able to make music without all the messy contingencies of having to learn, you know, all those notes and chords and scales and arpeggios and theory and stuff. The synthesizer would do it all for you. (think "disco").
Turns out, of course, that if you ever wanted to do any more than just play the demos on your Casio keyboard, that you actually DO have to learn all that other stuff. And yes, there is quite a bit to learn.
Now I seem to hear an echo of that same thing with experimental robotics: "Can't I just do robotics without having to learn all that mechanical, electronics, and software stuff? Can't I just buy that part from somebody else?"
With robotics, as with music, I think the real answer here is no.
You can, of course, buy a trumpet or a piano built by someone else, just as you can buy a micro-controller or gear-head motor or IMU built by someone else. But you can't "buy" the ability to play that piano. You actually have to take the time to learn the skill; there are no shortcuts (as my music teachers used to tell me!!!)
If you want to write a symphony, you really do have to master the entire orchestra. No other way to do it.
(For the non-musicians among us, substitute the word "math" for the word "music" and the words "pocket calculator" for the word "synthesizer" and the words "calculus and algebra and geometry" for the words "scales and arpeggios and music theory." Then substitute "build a robot" for "write a symphony" and "master hardware AND software" for "master the entire orchestra" :>} )
Part of the problem with the "commodity" approach to robotics, as Gordon and others have pointed out, is that there is no good definition of what problems we are trying to solve, or even agreement on the problems themselves, much less their definitions. This makes it very hard to define a commodity level, hardware, software, API, whatever. Your API ("you" in the universal sense) will probably not provide the functions that I want my robot to have, and vice versa.
So the "innovative" robots tend to be innovative in both software AND hardware. The two are really inseparable. I believe it will be that way for a long time to come.
The good news is, with robotics as with music, learning a new skill set is still worth it! Indispensable, some might say.
regards, dpa
http://www.geology.smu.edu/~dpa-www/myrobots.html
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
dpa wrote: [snip]

[Snip]
I agree wholeheartedly. I joined (skeptically) the RETF (Robot Engineering Task Force) list, which was created by a couple of intel guys to come up with a standard API and comm protocol for robotics. Unfortunately, the effort appears to have fizzled, precisely for the reasons you suggest -- there is simply no well-defined problem that lends itself to a common API, let alone a meaningful and common set of capabilities to which such an API could be written.
--
(Replies: cleanse my address of the Mark of the Beast!)

Teleoperate a roving mobile robot from the web:
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
dpa wrote: <most snipped>

Excellent post, David. Thanks.
As lurkers: David doesn't post here frequently, and it's nice to have his input. If you're not familiar with his work, follow the link at the bottom of his message. Several of David's robots, like NBot and SR04, are considered classics.
Come to think of it, NBot probably inspired a significant number of people to create their own two-wheeled self-balancing robot. And it wasn't even in a Star Wars movie!
-- Gordon
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
dpa wrote:

David, I just love your symphonies of robotic designs.
The NBot would have to be the favorite.
-- John
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Billy Guttery wrote:

NEWS FLASH: dit dit dit dit dit dit dit dit dit...
New robot has facial recognition ability for hobbits.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
?
What new robot?
Rich
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote in

http://www.businessweek.com/the_thread/techbeat/archives/2005/05/brai ny_pcs_on_w.html
"Frontline announced its acquisition of White Box on May 10."
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Ya know, if'n I'da thought this might've been a flame war, I would never'd relayed the information.
Personally, I thought it was a good idea--from the perspective that I've spent _thousands_ of dollars over the years pursuing this _hobby_.
I'm not a mechanically inclined indivdual, nor do I intend to be, however tempting. I can barely burn my own circuit boards. I am, however, interested in all facets of "the field".
I like the fact that I can get something that goes fast and looks cool.
Bugger all of you that have made me feel guilty over the last two days for posting this.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Billy Guttery wrote:

I, personally, thank you for bringing this to the attention of the group.

I have spent a great deal also.

Strangely enough I'm fairly good at electronics and not so good at mechanics, yet I prefer to deal with the mechanics.

Me too.
If White Box had been selling product six months ago I would have bought one.

*Nobody* can make you feel guilty. And frankly it seems that it's mainly one person that appears to be personally insulted by the White Box offerings. -- D. Jay Newman http://enerd.ws/robots /
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Billy Guttery wrote:

<snip>
What Jay said.
And besides, Whitebox and Frontline have now merged, creating an interesting hybrid robotics company. Quite obviously, at least one outfit saw (sees) the benefit of the Whitebox approach...so much so that they put up $$$ for the whole thing.
-- Gordon
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Gordon McComb 寫道:

never'd
that
I wonder who is the broker of this merger? If there is one. Also, what about Robodynamics and Coroware? That is another merger of similar kind. Will the White Box Robot be as successful as the roomba? Probbably not. Will it sell better than the ER-1 of Evolution Robotics? We certainly hope so.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Good questions. Given both Frontline and Whitebox are fairly small companies -- maybe a dozen employees between them -- I have a feeling there was no broker setting up the deal. Just my hunch, though. Company CEOs in this biz tend to know each other.
I think we'll see some more mergers, as there may be too many companies out there right now vying for the same dollars. RoboDynamics/CoroWare is basically in the same business as Frontline, as well as a few others. I think we'll start seeing some real competition to iRobot, perhaps from the Japanese, who have so far not competed heavily in warfare and civil control applications. Lifestyle support technologies may be where the Japanese pull ahead. That seems a better fit in their culture, IMO.
We need to remember that the ER-1 was produced as a development platform, designed to promote their software. While some hobbyists purchased an ER-1, the robots themselves were basically sold at cost -- down to around $250 for a while -- with an eye on selling licenses to the vision and navigation IP. There seems to be some success there, with licenses to Sharper Image, Sony, Whitebox, etc.
-- Gordon
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Gordon McComb wrote:

what
Robotics?
Company
companies
RoboDynamics/CoroWare
others.
from
civil
--
with
At this point, the White Box Robot is basically an ER-1 in a better looking box. Unless they managed to upgrade the software with ERSP or something more advanced and powerful, otherwise this robot will probably remain on the shelf. Don't know if packaging an ER-1 in a good looking box constitute as a uniquely competitive feature. If this is indeed a good strategy, what will prevent another robotic box designer from designing an even better looking box as an enclosure. The obvious problem with White Box Robot when compare to the ER-1 is that it greatly simplifies and limits ways user mounts components on to the robot. This is a plus and a minus. The plus, because user no longer need to be creative in coming up with mounting options. The minus, once fully configured, everybody's finished robot will likely to be very similar, appearance-wise.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

what
Robotics?
feeling
Company
companies
RoboDynamics/CoroWare
others.
from
civil
the
cost --

to
with
I attempted to purchase an ER-1 and was told they are NLA. So I contacted the company, offering to be there end of product life support company. I got no response. Bummer.
Joe
--
Mini ITX and other computer goodies:
www.brokenacres.rite2u.com
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Polytechforum.com is a website by engineers for engineers. It is not affiliated with any of manufacturers or vendors discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.