How do People Want to Talk to a Robot?

Maria Ralph and Medhat A. Moussa from the the University of Guelph in Ontario made a study about "Talking to Robots". They wanted participants, that they should begin to talk to a robot-arm in order to let the robots collect things that are normally around in the household like spoons and keys.

The individuals were given a list of a handful of simple phrases that they could use to verbally operate the robot, and they were also permitted and encouraged to develop new phrases that they thought might help the robot perform its task.

Instead of using speech recognition software, the researchers trained human operators to translate the participants' words into movements via a graphical user interface. When participants made up new commands, the operator prompted them to define these new commands with a series of simple commands from the list.

The researchers figured out that the participants tend to use simple phrases more than complex ones. The teaching progress of the human - robot interaction was similar to the teaching progress of small children.

People also tended to humanize their language compared with the simple commands. For example, simple commands such as "move left" became "move closer to me" or "move this way."

The participants also tended to encourage the robot when it was doing well, providing feedback much like humans give to children. For instance, they used phrases such as "you're almost there" and "you've got it" for correct motions, "that's it" for successful moves, and "that's wrong" for incorrect moves. When using the same commands in sequence, sometimes people left out the actual commands, and replaced them with words such as "again" or "keep going."

It is also noted, that each participant developed an unique language to talk to the robot. The design of a robot to understand humans should take this into consideration.

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Tags: speech, living-with-robots, interaction, theory
Apr_02:2008 .020200 Comments(0)

Prank of the Day and Glove-Keyboard

The prank of the day is this very special video of the BigDog. Can you tell the error?

[via Suicide Bots]

Next up this great video from a glove-styled mini-keyboard. I would like to have more human-computer interaction like this.

Tags: bigdog, music, play, boston dynamics, artificial creativity
Apr_01:2008 .020200 Comments(0)

LANdroid - Internet Swarms Surrounding You

IRobot, that company most famous for their vacuum cleaner robot Roomba, is working for the DARPA on a system they call the LANdroid. This are small robots that can be used like hand-grenades. You can throw them over walls for example. When they hit the ground, they unfold themselves and build an ad hoc wireless LAN network. They can move on the ground in order to enhance the signal quality. It should enable steady internet connection in especially in urban areas where it is difficult to get stable wireless LAN connections.

Just think away that military usage of this robots and you will get a very interesting urban swarm robotics scenario. Just throw your robots somewhere and obtain a stable network, that is also self-enhancing and in the best case also moving along with you and your peers. What a cool smart mobs scenario! Now add solar-powered, autonomous flying drones to the LANdroids on the ground and we get the evernet-swarm: internet-robots that are constantly surrounding and supplying us with bandwith.

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Tags: swarm, landroid, cooperate, outdoor, networked
Mar_29:2008 .020200 Comments(0)

Bristlebots are getting Playful - More Developments of the Crowd

More and more videos appear exploring the concept of vibro- and bristlebots. This video shown here directly played itself into my heart. It is so tweaky, cutting is good and the bristlebot is fast and cute. What, cute? Can a bristlebot be cute? Somehow it can.

Some more things happen. The very inventors of the bristlebot itself mounted a pager-motor on a chip and bend the pins to make it run around a little bit. Good work.

Another video is showing a vibrobot made of an old camera. Compared to them, our very first try of doing an own bristle is somehow decent, but like commenters at YouTube suggested we could make the "front wheels" flexible in order to give that plastic acid bot a little amount of more control.

You may also want to put the bristles on a gaming field. Add robot features and begin to play an interactive game to beat the other bots.

A man called Chris Cerrito experimented a little bit with very solid made bristlebots and paint. Obviously they had lots of fun doing it. Call it robotic-generated art if you want to.

Tags: bristlebot, homebrew, vibrobot, community, crowd, game, play, art, swarm, indie-labs
Mar_28:2008 .020200 Comments(7)

Moonbootica with Tin-Videohead Robots

Moonbootica made a videoclip where they play two "Tin"-robots. The first one is J-UMP the other A-ROUND (notice, this is a remix of House of Pains' Jump Around). Instead of metal-heads they wear sneaky displays, showing the faces of the creators of the music. The video is also full of references, so worth checking out.

Tags: music, tin-robot, video, germany
Mar_27:2008 .020200 Comments(0)

Sodaplay - Get into the Groove of Robotic Engeneering


An amoeba made in Sodaplay

Finally I have the opportunity to write about Sodaplay, an application I highly love but rarely used so far. Sodaplay is something like a 'virtual locomotion construction-kit' (if you would use robot-jargon). It is a physical-based modeling environment where you can explore the concept of springs, masses and muscles. Based on Java you can construct every thinkable locomotion creature, for instance amoebas, robots or wandering cells.

In the editor you are able to play around with parameters like gravity, direction, speed of cycling frequencies etc.. Also dragging and throwing your lifeform across the screen is involved and very fun. There are construction-editors and other facilities with game-like features available. Test for example how good your locomotion works and let your virtual creation beat each other in a race!

Sodaplay is a very nice Artificial Life application that is good to learn and to explore robotic concepts as well. But Sodaplay is also nothing new. The very first version of this program was released on the internet many years ago. It was originally created by Ed Burton and released in April 2000 by Soda.

Tags: tool, learning, artificial-life, simulation, toy, physics
Mar_25:2008 .020200 Comments(0)

Software-bugs are Emergent Behavior of the Future

Alan Winfield, a robotics researcher at the University of the West of England in Bristol, has fresh wisdom about swarm robotics at hand. He told one of the writers from the New Scientist:

"Software bugs are emergent properties - but today we think they're bad and must be fixed. We need to know how to design the kind of emergent 'bugs' that produce swarm intelligence in nature."

Software development could face a significant shift if we change the meaning of what software really is. Evidentially all software development methods at present try to reach totally bug-free code. We never learned, at least not systematically, to build systems where we can explore and utilize bugs. The only things I can think of pointing towards this direction are glitch and circuit bending. Maybe more! Feel free to comment!

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Tags: misuse, swarm, software, nature, code, swarm robotics, theory
Mar_22:2008 .020200 Comments(0)

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