If you're with me so far, you recognize decent sensors,
extremely flexible movement, and the fact it’s designed to be
reprogrammed and inexpensive. So what's i-Cybie missing?
If I Only Had a Brain ...
A stock i-Cybie is like the Scarecrow — missing a brain. It's
there; it's just not used by the default firmware.
The built-in actions are very fluid. The robot is very flexible and most hardware features work as expected. But the
mood-logic seems to have a permanent case of Robotic
Depression Disorder (RDD).
The standard personality has four moods: happy, hyper,
sad, and sleepy, but it always seems to have these four
moods: sad, Sad, SAd, and you guessed it, SAD. Put simply,
an i-Cybie from the factory needs Robotic Prozac.
The stock firmware also performs the same repetitive
actions over and over without selective responses, variety, or
intelligent mood shifts.
Keeping your robot safe from the continuous threat of
impending depression requires your constant interaction and
attention. While that may be great for a Poo-Chi or Tekno,
this is a real robot made for bipeds ages 14 and up. I don't
know of anyone 14 and up who wants a very needy robot on
This is where Silverlit and the many fans supporting this
robot have stepped in. New personalities that you can download and install have been created with some user-created
The available tools range from an easy to use tool anyone can use to create custom personalities, to intermediate
language interpreters like BASIC, and finally, full C code or
even assembly if you're really feeling brave. These are all programs written by dedicated fans, and so may challenge you
to add the features you want or work within the framework
of each programming language’s stage of development.
The easiest modification tool — "YICT" — is one I recommend to anyone examining the development of an interactive personality. By adding or changing the responses with
this tool, you can customize overall or specific behavior, or
completely alter the mood logic itself to eliminate an unfortunate case of robotic depression.
YICT's behavior modification is like an implantable pump
of digital antidepressants, making i-Cybie one happy robot.
The great thing about these features is, for less than
many basic assemble-it-yourself robot kits, you get a complete development suite:
Fully assembled and operational 16 axis
robot with effective sensors
Automatic charging device for increased
Downloader to create your own
Serial port can be wired in for more
advanced C programming
May I Have a Source Code
The development tools were created without the
release or review of the robot's source code.
This is one area where Silverlit could take a lesson from
the LEGO MindStorm series, and how the release of source
code to hobbyists and fans results in increased sales, new
development, and a stronger foundation of supporters.
Even without the code, development with the SDK v2.0
using C works well as an effective programming tool. BASIC
is an easier to use language that interprets the code and then
compiles it using the SDK.
As an introduction to robotics programming, the personality editor YICT is very easy to use and the most complete
As a fully programmable robotic platform, it's hard to
overlook the low entry costs and extensive features.
If ... Then ... Next ...
For the experimenter or developer, there is a range of
programming options suited to any level of experience.
Start with easy to use tools, and then try more complex
code in BASIC, C, or something advanced like assembly code.
Offering even a beginner the tools and hardware needed to affordably explore a full range of robotics, it's a compelling combination.
Robots like i-Cybie are an important development in
affordable, personal robots.
Having survived just about everything that could go
wrong to a product, this is one robot that's programmed to
be tougher than the sum of its 1,400 parts.
Just don't forget the Prozac ... SV
SERVO 12.2003 13