Twin Tweaks ...
READY FOR CONDITIONING.
However, the Roboni-i did present a
fantastically easy way to incorporate new sensors.
All of the existing sensors in the main body of
the bot were connected to the PCB using
socketed connectors (instead of being soldered
directly into the board). An easy way to integrate
our sensor would be to pirate one of the existing
sockets. The front bumper seemed like an ideal
candidate, for a quick and easy way to implement
our new switch. We did have to trade in our male
PWM connector for a female connector, but it
was an easy switch.
Just as a knock on the front bumper
completed the circuit by closing the SPST switch,
our gravity switch would complete a circuit upon
the execution of an acrobatic flip. Even without
reprogramming the bot, we were able to see that
the sensor worked because Roboni-i would back
up and turn upon inversion (which seemed like an
odd but observable reaction).
The Roboni-i is a stylish looking robot with a
sleek outer shell that looks both cool and efficient.
Unfortunately, the shell left no obvious opening
for our PWM cable to escape, so we had to make
PROGRAMMING THE ROBONI-I.
one. We carved a small notch out of the
transparent blue panel, and we were pleased to
see that the final result was not atrociously
With our surreptitious sensor switcheroo, all
we had to do now was reprogram the reaction for
the front bumper into something more
appropriate for our operant conditioning. We liked
the shiver function, but it was technically
unavailable because our Robot TX level was still
hovering around the amount of trust that John
Watson’s Little Albert had for white furry things.
Fortunately, a short shiver was already a part of
the front bumper reaction, so we kept that block
and removed the other extraneous movements.
We extended the time of the shiver to make sure
it was very apparent to the errant driver. Even if
the driver wasn’t very sympathetic to the inverted
bot, a long shiver would reduce driving ability
enough to motivate a change in behavior. We also
made sure the LEDs were flashing and that the
Roboni-i would make an “irritated” sound so the
driver knew that learning how to drive carefully
was a worthwhile endeavor.
We were really conditioning the driver and not
the robot, so we were careful to make our
modification only to the driving mode. Users can
also modify Roboni-i’s autonomous behaviors, but
it was nice to know that we wouldn’t cause any
permanent psychological damage.
After downloading the program (downloading
programs to the Roboni-i is a snap), we were
ready to test the efficacy of our behavior
modification technique. It takes just a quick
change of direction to send the Roboni-i into an
acrobatic loop, and we were pleased to see the
robot lapse into a prolonged shiver after flipping
over. Other drivers might not be as sympathetic,
but we sure wanted to drive more steadily to
spare the Roboni-i from punishment.
Now, it may have been easier just to drive
more slowly in the first place, but we were
thrilled to discover that the Roboni-i is
indeed readily hackable. The sockets on the
circuit board allow users to immediately
attach custom sensors and program them
without any sophisticated tricks. The
timeline programming interface is intuitive
and easy to use, but with a little creativity
complicated actions can be programmed in.
We don’t think that the Robot TX level
would present a serious obstacle to any new
74 SERVO 03.2010