Friday, August 19, 2011

Robot books

I already mentioned "Mobile Robots - Inspiration to Implementation" by Jones and Flynn (the second edition has a third author, Bruce A. Seiger, but I have the first). It is an inspiring book and a good source of information for the aspiring recreational roboticist. The first edition is a bit dated in some respects, for example I think that the MC68HC11 microcontroller used in the Rug Warrior example is not the first choice for the modern robot builder, because there are easier-to-use and more powerful alternatives, like the ATmega-based Arduino development boards especially designed for hobbyists. Nevertheless, the book contains a lot of useful information, is well written and fun to read.

"Robot Programming - A Practical Guide to Behavior-Based Robotics" also by Joseph L. Jones is a more programmer-oriented introduction to robot building. It's pretty basic and thus suitable for beginners, and perhaps some parts are a bit too basic for more advanced hobbyists, but Jones does a good job of delivering his main point: how to apply the behavior-based approach to programming autonomous robots.

Behavior-based robots react to inputs from their sensors by applying a set of relatively simple behaviors. Unlike industrial robots used on assembly lines, behavior-based robots do not attempt to follow a fixed plan based on a detailed model of the surroundings and items to manipulate. Instead, everything comes as a surprise to them, and they just try to adapt. The total behavior of the robot is an emergent property of the system of low-level behaviors, and could even be something useful or interesting if the designer has been clever.

The first commercially successful household robots, robotic floor cleaners like the iRobot Roomba, have been designed by applying the behavior-based approach. In fact, according to the author profile in "Robot Programming", Jones is one of the inventors of Roomba and works for iRobot.

No comments:

Post a Comment