Robots and Systems
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London West Hotel, SW6.    Wednesday 3rd July 1985

When the conference was downsized from a three to one day event
the organisers told us they wouldn't be paying for to present
papers at the conference. So my talk was from notes and never 
writen up.
David Buckley

Personal Robotics Conference & Exhibition 2,3,4 July 1985
London West Hotel, SW6

Kitchen Table Robotics
The place of the Hobbyist/Home Inventor

Home Inventor is perhaps a rathr unfortunate phrase touse in a
title since it seems at once to conjure up images of a crackpot 
working away in utter chaos on a completely unrealisable machine.

While this person may or not exist it doesn't alter the fact that 
there are very many comparatively sane people who build robots as 
a hobby.

Does the hobbyist have anything to contribute to robotics and 
since this seminar is on personal robotics, personal robotics in 

To answer that we could draw comparisons from the field of 
personal computing where in the last five years the advances have 
almost been beyond belief.

Has the personal computer hobbyist contributed anything to the 
development, acceptance, awarness and use of personal computers? 
Of course they have.

They may not have always been the ones to actually do develoment 
work, but, by the fact that they existed and so were an eager 
market, advances came thick and fast.

Five years ago Acorn's first computer came with 1k bytes of RAM, 
a 250byte monitor program and a calculator type display.

Sinclair's ZX-81 could display graphics in black and white with a 
screen resolution of 64x44 pixels.

Nowadays the same state of the art is represented by 200K bytes 
of memory and displays of 500x250 pixels in 16 colours.

Can we expect the same advances in personal robots? We must 
expect it, to do otherwise is to ignore the effects of the most 
widely available toy on sale at the moment - the robot.

However real robots are considerably different from those toys.

Toy robots come alive in ones imagination whereas real robots 
only come alive in as much as they are programmed to come alive 
and that really is the difficult part.

It is relatively easy to design the mechanical, electrical and 
electronic aspects of a robot but almost always the software 
leaves everything to be desired.

To be sure most robots come with software which allows them to 
move forward, turn right, flash a light etc but software which 
makes intelligent use of data from sensors is notably absent.

So what has all this to do with the hobbyist?

Well Britain is at hte moment the most computer literate nation 
in the world.

This coupled with the ideology of robots absorbed from toys means 
ther are an awful lot of people, hobbyists, just waiting to solve 
the problems of robot software.

What sort of robots do hobbyists build? Most people seem to be 
quite incapable of constructing anything and unfortunately quite 
a lot of people are even proud of it.

However robots do get built.

The following slides are not representative of home built 
personal robots as a whole but are some I have taken over the 
last couple of years.

In the exhibition you will see more examples.

[show slides]

On this side of the Atlantic

Show Zeaker

discuss problems of getting out of corners

where do you place sensors?

hobbyists can do this experimentaly.

show Double-Vision

Vision is really the crux of useful personal robots but vision is 

By building such as Double-Vision or by buying a Snap camera they 
can experiment with vision processing/understanding software.

only done in Universities

show Teal and discuss walking machines.

Future - discuss Croy1 architecture, only problem is time.

Outline Micromice Contest.

Problem of Micromice

no British Universities

Nick Smith, Alan Dibley, Dave Woodfield

vs films etc

is it an easy problem on the face of it - yes - in reality no.

tell DW three wheel control

Robot Ping Pong

Outline problem
Marvin Minskey quote Dartmouth Conference 1956
From the published proceedings of the conference:- 
During question time at the end of a paper detailing the problems 
of parts orientation and parts handling by robots, A young Marvin 
Minskey said something like "I don't expect this to be a problem. 
When we have inteligent hand/eye coordination the robots will 
just throw parts to each other" The chairman replied "Thank you 
Mr Minskey" and theyquestion time just fizzled out. Sort of 
stopped the show.

introduce abstract

paralled in world of uC

hobbyist now is researcher of tomorrow

uC in business driven by uC in home eg graphics

Sinclair ZX-80 thought no one would mind screen disappearing 
while it calculated!

Now we expect multicolour hi res moving graphics with sprites, 
windows, the works.

Walking Vehicles

I > BARG			(what did this mean?)
	outline problem

What is being done by not hobbyist

[cylinder drawing] at Cm ~10^6 polaroid servo cost

Hobbyists how to do the job better at less cost and with 
less software

Main problem for Robotics is they are very complex due to the 
soft worl algs not known multidiscipline research must fit in a 
research scheme.

What have hobbyists done?


Commercial		photos Hero, German Droid, Micromice.
simple path following
pen facility
line following
complex line following
obstacle detectors, fenders
speech output
sleep function

Jessops Turtle
Valient Designs Turtle
Tomy converted Arm
Beasty Arm
Beasty Mobile
Commotion Camera
Robotshack camera
Robotix Interface
RB5X	voice basic bumpers
Hero1	arm
	sensor ranging
	follow programmed path
	voice recognition
	special language
Hero Junior
	no arm
	but personality
Memocon Crawler
BBC Buggy

Robot Arms
Beasty Arm
Tomy Arm

Mobile Robots
Memocon Crawler
Beasty 2
Valient Designs Turtle
Jessops Turtle
BBC Buggy
Hero Junior

Mobiles with arms

Comotion Camera
Robot Shack camera