Friday, August 19, 2011

The three laws of recreational robotics

For as long as I remember, I've been interested in robots. When I was a kid in the 1980's, I read a lot of science fiction. I don't remember whether I was expecting humanoid robots to appear in my lifetime, but I remember understanding that before something like Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics could be applied, there were many difficult lower abstraction level problems to solve. You know like how to sense and interpret what's happening in the environment, how to manipulate everyday objects, and how to understand and produce speech.

I decided to build my own autonomous robot years ago. I read "Mobile Robots - Inspiration to Implementation" by Joseph L. Jones and Anita M. Flynn (the first edition) and even got some robot parts (a two-wheel differential drive base kit consisting of round plastic platforms and a couple of servos). The parts have been sitting in the closet for quite some time, but I supposedly never had the time to actually begin building my machine. You know: other hobbies, family, work, etc.

Recently I went through a surgical operation followed by a couple of weeks of sick leave. This seemed like a perfect opportunity to start my project. I actually made advance preparations, i.e. purchased some stuff from Ebay and Robot Shop, to make sure I could begin working immediately when I got home from the hospital.

Asimov's three laws have no application in my humble project, so instead I'll apply the Three Laws of Recreational Robotics I just invented:

  1. Start simple.
  2. Improve endlessly.
  3. Have fun.
In my upcoming posts I will write about my progress and maybe something about general robot-related subjects as well. The main purpose is to document the project for myself, but maybe somebody else out there is going to find this interesting or even useful. And of course it would be great to receive comments or advice!

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