personal rover project
The domestic robotics niche will not begin with vacuuming robots or
lawn-mowing robots in our opinion. First, a community of creative
roboticists will be able to invent using robots as a natural, robotic
extension of the early Apple II's. The personal rover is our first
step in this process, and a complete website describing this
project is available here.
cerebellum motor controller
We have been frustrated that many off-the-shelf servo and motor controllers
use proprietary code running on the PIC chip to which the buyer often does
not have access. Cerebellum is a serial-downloadable I/O controller that
controls several servoes, two DC motors, and has several digital and
analog input lines. The Cerebellum is much less expensive than
commercially available controllers.
Most importantly, the schematics and all of the
source code for Cerebellum are freely available. Visit the
official Cerebellum website
for details. 3Dmbot, shown on the left, uses one Cerebellum and one
CMUcam board as its processor suite.
cmucam vision kit
One problem with inexpensive robots is that they are just not interesting
enough, chiefly because they cannot really perceive the world. CMUcam is
our first try at creating an inexpensive and powerful sensor for small,
cheap mobile robots (and up). CMUcam can do many kinds of processing
on the fly, including tracking colorful objects.
Best of all, you can purchase one for about $100 from several
distributors who have licensed this product and are selling it to the
hobby robotics community. And now we have the CMUcam2 and most recently
the CMUcam3- which offers fully programmable embedded vision.
Go to the CMUcam
website for more.
palm pilot robot kit
We need inexpensive and fun robots. What if you could build a robot that could be
strapped to a Palm Pilot, or a GameBoy or TI Calculator for that matter? We have
created one such robot, using exclusively off-the-shelf parts. The novice roboteer can
build our pprk in about two hours after acquiring about $120 in parts. We have a
website where you can
find the bill of materials and step by step pictures and instructions for building your own
pprk. The site also provides software and a few simple demo programs for your enjoyment.
Robotic technologies can bring pleasurable and effective learning
to museum environments. This project is the effort
of Marti Louw, who designed, fabricated
and tested a series of interactive recycling stations at the Pittsburgh
Children's Museum. Toy Robotics Initiative technologies enabled this
device to detect the presence of children and respond with recorded
sounds and speech. Here is a PDF slideshow describing the project design and
evaluation, and "Designing for Delight: The Role of Wonder, Discovery, Invention and
Ingenuity in Exhibit Design" is Marti's thesis document describing her rhetorical approach
to museum exhibit design.
lego rcx comm
Can two lego RCX bricks easily communicate over infrared? This question
has a complex answer,
Rachel Gockley has worked out that answer.
process, she has designed a remote-controlled RCX demonstrator, which is
pictured at left. See this project's
for more details, including source code written in NQC.
The following Mpeg movie shows the RC lego remote-controlled:
Suppose we can make a miniature camera whose motion can be controlled by a human. Put
this camera in a colony of insects, and the human will
gain a whole new perspective on the insects and their biology. Blow up the image to
scale down the human appropriately, and amplify the insects sounds as well, and you
have a complete telepresent experience that is incredibly exciting and educational at
the same time. Technically, camera technology, optics and manipulation are well up to
the task. A complete insect telepresence exhibit is now being constructed for the
Carnegie Museum of Natural History's entrance, in collaboration with the Human-Computer
Interaction Institute, by Stacy All,
Angela Demke and
The following QuickTime movies were taken with our first prototype:
The Toy Robots Initiative has performed research into models for believable robot agents by creating
improv robots. Now,
Illah is working with a major toy manufacturer to instill their
toys with emotional models that improve their robot-human interaction. A paper is available
about the robot comedy improv project here.
A long-term goal of the initiative is to invent, prototype and demonstrate mechanisms for robot locomotion
that are far superior to standard wheeled and legged approaches. If you want robots that can climb stairs and
curbs, negotiate hilly terrain and operate exclusively using on-board power, then traditional wheels and legs are
unsuitable. Ben has several good ideas and, together with
Illah and Garth and others,
is pursuing robots that roll, hop, bounce, skitter and even slide. You can view much more information about
the hopping robots from Garth's website.
Pictured to the left is Gyrover, a self-contained robotic wheel designed originally for lunar exploration. Click
here for more information on the
Sports and recreational equipment are particularly enjoyable and healthful when they combine cardiovascular
training with motions that are new and exciting for people. We have applied the bow leg technology (patent pending)
to human augmentation systems. We have prototyped the BowGo series of jumping devices, enabling humans to
jump higher and longer than is otherwise possible.
Our Bowgo website is now open to the public. Current records include 42 inches of
ground clearance for standing jumps as well as 9 foot jumps across 2 foot high obstacles. If you would like
to learn more about this exhilarating human hopping machine, contact
Ben or Illah.
Office Plant #1 (OP#1) is an exploration
of a technological object, adapted to the office ecology, which fills the same social and emotional niche as a
plant. OP#1 monitors the ambient sound and light level, and, employing text classification techniques, also
monitors its owner's email activity. Its robotic, sculptural body, reminiscent of a plant form, responds in
slow, rhythmic movements to express a mood generated by the monitored activity. OP#1 is a new instantiation
of Michael Mateas and
Marc Bohlen's idea of *intimate technology*, that is, technologies which
human needs and desires as opposed to technologies which meet exclusively functional
The challenge here would to make a robot that can perceive its human "master,"
then give it the locomotion it needs to follow that human, over ledges, through
grass, and ideally even up and down stairs. The direction locator technology is
achievable using audio, radio, or color. The locomotion is harder, but
has several good ideas and expertise in this area. Imagine a robot that follows
you on your run or hike; it can carry your keys for you. Imagine imbuing these
robots with smart behaviors so that when they are next to two or more of their
own kind, their behavior changes appropriately and interestingly.
video on x
The goal here would be to produce an inexpensive, low-power wireless camera that
you could put on top of just about anything, complete with a viewing station.
A 3-D version would be even better. Simply taking the system and putting it on
remote control would make R/C races more exciting; there's a large hobby market
that conducts R/C car races, this would be a wonderful telepresent step for
them to take [they would be forbidden from looking at the car, only at the
back to the t.r.i. homepage...
This site maintained by Illah R. Nourbakhsh.
Page was last updated at 11:04 AM EST on Saturday, October 07, 2000.
visits since January 1999.