eXTReMe Tracker WARNING: The opinions expressed and linked to in this blog are not necessarily mine (anymore).

My ideas are constantly changing as I learn. Sometimes they even change midway through writing a post.

Friday, September 7

How to Build a Robot, Step 3: Define Robot

This would ideally be Step 1.
My first stab at this was that a robot would be mobile. I didn't mean that it could travel, just that some movement was involved.

One definition I found mentioned it performing repetitive tasks, but it didn't mention what sort of tasks. A desktop computer performs many repetitive tasks, but I don't think I'd call it a robot.

Someone else had this to say about what a robot is:
In my opinion, a remote controlled car is not a robot since it has no brain of it's own. It has no way to make a decision on its own. If you want to build a machine that just responds to your remote control, then just use a remote controlled car or other toy.

To be a robot, it should have the ability to think - make decisions. This may sound hard at first, but really any small computer can be programmed to make decisions. Here is an example of a decision that a small robot with a feeble brain could make:
IF FRONT LEFT WHISKER SENSOR IS ON THEN
STOP, GO BACKWARDS 2 FEET, TURN RIGHT, CONTINUE.


I think something's missing here. A remote control vehicle can make decisions. It has instructions that are effectively:
If signal from controller is LEFT, THEN (turn left)...

I think the distinguishing feature here isn't the decision making but "decision making based on sensory input".

Even there, one might say that a robot has a special sensor - infrared or whatever it uses to receive signals from a controller. Then again, you could say that a radio is a robot.

Then maybe you'd need to add something else to the definition - motion. A robot is something that makes decisions about movement, based on sensory input and which doesn't require an operator.

Update: scratch the sensory input part, I think it could just be something (a machine) that is capable of movement and makes decisions about movement

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