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.


Tags: speech, living-with-robots, interaction, theory
Apr_02:2008 .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.


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

Symbrion: EU funds new Project on Swarm Robotics

Symbrion is the name of a new project funded the the European Union. This project has the goal to build a kind of artificial life consisting of super-large-scale swarms of robots, each not much bigger than a sugarcube. They can stick together and can interact this way in a modular session. The researchers expect new ways of behavior on the global swarm level. The single units are able to stick together and to share power and mobility among themselves. The swarm should be able to solve problems that sticky style a single unit never could do. For example like moving huge objects, passing obstacles or examine the surroundings. Think of ants. They do the same as a networked system.

On a visionary level some of the researchers think of a kind of global immune system, build upon small robot units that solve tasks independently and unique. Systems that are free of repair with collaborative power for tasks, humans are not able to solve. For instance to go out after an earthquake to search and rescue humans.

Collaborating bots build a structure

With the Symbrion project the European Research continues its way of systematically investing into swarm-robotics, like they did with the swarm-robot project. This project involves international research labs from all over the world and if successful we leading knowledge on the nature of networked swarm-robotics can be expected. Have an overview of the goals.


Tags: symbrion, swarm, research, multi-scale, emergence, artificial-life
Mar_19:2008 .020200 Comments(0)

Robot on a Swing

Via Botjunkie I found this robot on a swing. A little metal-humanoid, shaping things to come. Man, what a cute video! Only the cables are a little disturbing, don't you also think so little robot-man?


Tags: play, humanoid
Mar_17:2008 .020200 Comments(1)

The Big Dog from Boston Dynamics

The future of robots will be somewhere decided between the Carnegie Mellon University and Boston Dynamics. Last time the robot-builders from Pittsburgh showed us how to build incredible snaky robots for indoor and outdoor use. The engineers at Boston Dynamics continue with their developments on the *dog-series.

A video appeared on YouTube, that shows the "BigDog". A donkey-like creature that moves extremely like an real animal: just have a look to see what I mean.

Driven by a very loud gas engine for outside use, the donkey feels lively playing in the snow. Skip the first few minutes, because the first highlight is when the robot slips on ice. Just keep on to believe how human it looks! Next highlights are the Big Dog climbing a pile of rocks. Very interesting! The BigDog got four legs and the engineers maybe thought: why not teach the robot to jump? And so they did. At very first levels he can jump over obstacles!

On the science-fiction movies big robots were always slow and clumsy, just think of the AT-AT walkers on Star Wars. Can you imagine, that the future will more look like this?


Tags: motion, research, nature, legs, outdoor, walk, boston dynamics, bigdog
Mar_17:2008 .020200 Comments(0)

Monica's Helper Robots - Comic-Strips

Helper-Robots is a website, where "Monica" puts her robot-comics on - a mixture of Lolcats and Finite State Fantasies for my taste. Every strip is in think-mode, at least the speech is very technical. There is also one, where you get some background information on how and why. It is somehow hard for me to tell what this comics are about, but at least they play at the living-with-robots level. I slightly get the feeling that the robot-scene is not mainly dominated by men, like the computer-nerd culture is. And I hope they clean the site a little, it seems that they just stared over a journal.

Tags: fun, giving-birth, helper
Mar_13:2008 .020200 Comments(0)

Modular Snake Robots

It is incredible what the Carnegie Mellon University builds inside their labs. This video show the 'Modular Snake Robots'. This is really advanced level! The snake-bots are highly flexible and versatile. They can walk on the floor, crouch on bars and trousers, as well as going through holes and tubes - or climate control units - how creepy. They can even swim and look, no are, living creatures. Once again, the Modsnake Website.


Tags: outside, creature, modular, research, giving-birth
Mar_08:2008 .020200 Comments(0)

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