More than meets the eye!
June 22, 2003 11:07 PM   Subscribe

Can Optimus Prime be far behind? Xerox PARC's experimental, modular robots look like nothing so much as a pile of random MECCANO--until you see them in action. Watch one robot transform from a loop, to a snake, to a spider configuration! Or play with the Java simulator. [via Boing Boing]
posted by arto (15 comments total)
No. Optimus Prime is light years ahead of a snakey-robot-esque hunk of machinery that can barely pedal a bike and navigates obstacles by flopping all over them.
posted by bryanzera at 12:38 AM on June 23, 2003

"can barely pedal a bicycle".. you underestimate how difficult it is to teach a robot to pedal a bicycle. My robot skinned his knees countless times before he got the hang of it, poor little guy.
posted by Space Coyote at 1:30 AM on June 23, 2003

Space Coyote: That's nothing. You should taste the gin rickeys my robotic companion mixes me. They're a disgrace!

Honestly, I'm embarrassed to have company over!
posted by backOfYourMind at 2:03 AM on June 23, 2003

navigates obstacles by flopping all over them

Actually, that's probably not a bad idea. I'm not an engineer, but I imagine if you wanted a really adaptable all-terrain robot, having something that had no up or down and could roll all over lumpy objects would be just the thing.

Sure, it's no Metal Mickey, but y' step at a time.
posted by backOfYourMind at 2:09 AM on June 23, 2003

Hey, it can climb (well, flop up) stairs, which makes it better than a Dalek, anyways.
posted by arto at 2:41 AM on June 23, 2003

Robots are on a media upswing it looks like. Salon did an article on the Robo World Cup and the aspiration of robot designers to field a team for World Cup 2050, CBS Sunday morning did a robot segment yesterday, can a Dean Kamen product announcement be far behind?
posted by putzface_dickman at 5:01 AM on June 23, 2003

Robots are on a media upswing it looks like.

As an amateur robot builder, I'd like to think robots are finally here to stay. Solving robot-related puzzles and challenges (in an open source manner) is just about the only regular activity that makes me feel we're indeed in a new millennium.

Or in the new milunnium that I'd like to be in ...
posted by magullo at 5:34 AM on June 23, 2003

I was on an airplane a decade ago with an artificial intelligence researcher who felt that robots were the best vehicle for exploring A.I. issues. But he maligned that fact that, at the time, robotics and artificial intelligence were in a turf war and were they were getting territorial about access to funding. For him, when he tried to get AI grant money, or approval for research from his department he couldn't mention robotics in proposals or he'd be dismissed as a tinkerer and outsider. I guess that means AI research was concentrating on some sort of disembodied intelligence, and looked down on robotics. Can someone tell me if that was an accurate depiction of the early 90s with robotics and AI communities divided? Is this still the case?
posted by putzface_dickman at 6:24 AM on June 23, 2003

[awesome post]
posted by jsonic at 7:54 AM on June 23, 2003

I just noticed that the technical contact on the simulators is the same person that wrote the tutorials I used to teach myself PHP. Cool!
posted by putzface_dickman at 8:10 AM on June 23, 2003

That clip of the snake transforming itself into the spider and standing up gave me a bit of a shiver. I'm normally an optimist when it comes to technology, but for some reason I flashed on an image of robots assembling themselves and going after people terminator-style.

Of course, the fact that I'm deathly afraid of spiders might have something to do with it.
posted by jeffj at 10:19 AM on June 23, 2003

Its like the evil robot replicators from Stagate the tv series.
posted by Iax at 1:32 PM on June 23, 2003

jeffj: Now if you really wanna get paranoid, look at this demo of a Polybot climbing a fence and deploying a remote video camera, then look at the "Funded by DARPA" thingy on the front page. Look, it's the Black Helicopter of the '00s!
posted by arto at 2:14 PM on June 23, 2003

But what about ASIMO?
posted by modofo at 2:39 PM on June 23, 2003

*Sigh* Well, since no one here has ANY manners, then I must fulfill the obligatory:

I for one, welcome our Modular Polybot Overlords.
posted by reality at 6:20 PM on June 23, 2003

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