his new voice commands, we were ready to
test his obedience against that of Argus. After
calling the attention of the students with their
respective names, we issued the command
“Sitz!” Argus responded quickly, but Myshkin
required a few repetitions before finally
acquiescing. In his defense, Myshkin had
certainly received less training than Argus, and
he did eventually comply. With that sort of
obedience, a spot on Ferguson’s Skeleton Army
might not be out of the question.
Overall, we were very pleased with the
accessibility and effectiveness of the VRbot
module. Even after working with countless
robot kits, there is something unusually exciting
about seeing a robot respond to your
commands — not by a remote control but by
the sound of your voice. The LEDs are a super
helpful debugging tool, as is the test group
function in the GUI. And while the microphone
seemed more sensitive in the test group mode
than our little obedience class, we’re sure that
finding the right conversational speed with the
Robonova would make things go much
smoother. Some of the unresponsiveness may
also have been due to our aged battery pack,
because Prince Myshkin did seem the most
responsive after just being charged. So, while
he’ll keep the moniker of Prince Myshkin, at least
it’s a name that the bot can actually respond
The excitement of the voice commands also
got us thinking about what else we could use the
VRbot module for. While the module is advertised
to work with the Robonova, we think that
implementation with other platforms is not only a
possibility but something that is indeed
encouraged by the folks at Tigal and VeeAR. The
Tigal page concludes the instructional video with a
few minutes on how to implement the module
with the EasyPIC5 development board, and the
VeeAR forum is rife with advice about using the
module with different microcontrollers. With the
right amount of ingenuity and coding savvy, we’re
sure that intrepid tinkerers could get just about
any BASIC programmed robot to listen to them
like an obedient German Shepherd. Now that
deserves a treat. SV
Special Thanks to
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SERVO 05.2010 77