Sensors For Mobile Robots -— Part 4
FIGURE 4. A few lines
of ELIZA from the
had entered the home and given the commands.
Yes, all of these capabilities are available to today’s
robot experimenter because of the unique sensors that I’m
going to discuss. A robot from a quarter century ago might
have had some of these capabilities, but today’s lower cost
and far more capable sensors make implementation and
programming so much easier.
The old ELIZA computerized psychologist program
developed by Joseph Weizenbaum in the mid ‘60s was a
pseudo-speech recognition/AI program that everyone just
had to have on their Apple II or early IBM computer. You
could type in “My mother hates me” and the response
would be “Who else in your family hates you?” Silly, but
76 SERVO 09.2012
FIGURE 5. The iRobot
intriguing. Figure 4 shows a few lines of how a
doctor/patient conversation might go.
I saw one computer around 1980 that had ELIZA
rigged to a simple voice-to-text peripheral. The results were
actually more interesting because the voice recognition
device would make many mistakes (think auto-correct) and
the resulting psychologist’s analysis output was hilarious.
I first saw this program installed on a PDP- 11 computer
system at Rockwell back in the mid ‘70s; it took up too
much engineering ‘play’ time, so it disappeared. It was an
early example of primitive natural language processing but
was far more entertaining than actually being useful.
Robots Today With Visual
and Verbal Capabilities
The iRobot AVA shown in Figure 5 made its debut at
the CES 2011 show in Las Vegas — the place that all
cutting-edge electronic products strive to be seen by the
media and industry. The inexpensive modular robot sported
an iPad for a head and face, and was demonstrated by
iRobot’s CEO, Colin Angle. iRobot hasn’t been very open
about the robot’s potential uses, but the early PrimeSense
sensor just below the iPad can sense gestures to possibly
follow a nurse in a hospital. Angle dodged the questions
whether it was a home health care device or just another
telepresence robot, but stopped just short of actually
revealing the eventual intended application.
Another amazing robot shown in Figure 6 is what is
called the unbeatable Rock-Paper-Scissors opponent. The
figure shows paper covering rock for the win. It might be a
bit hard to believe, but this robot can beat a human
opponent 100% of the time. Developed by the Ishikawa
FIGURE 6. The rock-paper-scissors robot from the IshiKawa
Oku Lab at the University of Tokyo.