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Toys Programming IT Technology

Evolution Robotics' ER1 Reviewed 94 94

Anonymous Coward writes "A useful review of Evolution Robotics' ER-1 by the boys at Techfocus. It covers: construction, customization, hardware requirements, best features, programming, durability of equipment -- and all that good stuff. One interesting factoid is that the robot can recognize objects until the object is blocked - up to 40% - by something (like a piece of furniture). Techfocus aptly points out the Orwellian implications... Another thing that rocked my world is the notion that the robot is not as much of a drag on CPU as one might suspect. TF ran the unit on an NEC Versa VXi running Windows 2000, with a 900mhz CPU and 128mb of RAM, and encountered absolutely no problems. Encouragingly, if you want to further customize your robot, why not just write a script in C or Perl -- the manual even points users toward an app primarily based in Linux. What's not surprising: it's pricey. Also some nice pictures of how the robot really looks right out of the box."
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Evolution Robotics' ER1 Reviewed

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  • Another robot (Score:4, Informative)

    by PD (9577) * <slashdotlinux@pdrap.org> on Friday May 16, 2003 @03:13PM (#5974928) Homepage Journal
    This one also has a commercial off-the-shelf computer in the heart of the design:

    It uses a Palm Pilot [cmu.edu]
  • by TopShelf (92521) on Friday May 16, 2003 @03:14PM (#5974938) Homepage Journal
    Until Azimov's 3 Rules come standard.
  • by ajiva (156759) on Friday May 16, 2003 @03:14PM (#5974940)
    I saw a demo of this at Fry's Electronics! Very
    impressive, the robot itself isn't terrible fast, and you do have to have the laptop there, but the person demoing said they were working on something for PocketPCs, and other PDA's!
  • Real world robots (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lakers (109032) on Friday May 16, 2003 @03:15PM (#5974950) Homepage
    I've seen so many robot articles. Robots to mow your lawn, vacuum your carpet, walk your dog...

    Where are they though? I have yet to walk down my street and see a mowing robot or visit a friends house and see a robot cleaning the windows. Most of these articles will say that they will be available to consumers in the next year or so.

    Funny, I've been reading articles about robots for what seems like forever
    • "I have yet to walk down my street and see a mowing robot or visit a friends house and see a robot cleaning the windows."

      That's because I'm walking down the street a block ahead of you and kidnapping them to add to my evil army of homicidal housecleaning gardening robots.

    • Re:Real world robots (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Apreche (239272)
      They are available to consumers. You can buy Asimo if you want. It just costs rediculous amounts of money. Right now robots are only toys for geeks. Robots aren't good enough to customize themselves yet, so only a geek who can code can have a useful one. And geeks who can code usualy make neat things more often than useful things. Rich geeks who can code and will make useful things are few and far between. And if you were one, or are one, and you had say, a lawn-mowing robot. Would you let it go outside
      • ...and you had say, a lawn-mowing robot. Would you let it go outside on its own? No! Someone would definitely steal it.

        That's because you didn't get the robotic sentry with anti-personnel artillery. Quit being so cheap!
    • Re:Real world robots (Score:3, Informative)

      by gwernol (167574)
      I've seen so many robot articles....Where are they though? ... Most of these articles will say that they will be available to consumers in the next year or so.

      Bed, Bath and Beyond (and you can't get a lot more consumer than that store) has the Roomba [bedbathandbeyond.com] for sale. I saw them at the San Francisco store a couple of weeks ago. With over 450 stores across the US, I'd say they are widely available, at least in the States.
    • "If only she had killer robot insurance. Most insurance policies don't cover attacks by killer robots.
      Robots are everywhere, and they eat old people's medicine for food.

      Only Old Glory offers complete killer robot coverage.

      Robots are everywhere, and when they grab you with their big metal claws there's no secape, because they're made of metal. And robots are strong.

      Note: People denying the existence of killer robots may be robots themselves."
    • Not only is the Roomba available for sale as a robot that vacuums your carpet, but it now has a competitorElectrolux just put out a higher end module, that when the battery is low, goes and plugs itself into the recharger.
    • Re:Real world robots (Score:3, Interesting)

      by GooberToo (74388)
      My neighbor has one for mowing his yard. He stopped using it because it has to mow pretty much every day. This is because it's electric and can only mow low grass. Once the grass gets too high, it's can't move well or mow (bogs down too much). Plus, you have to constantly recharge it every day.

      In other words, this time saving marvel required more time spread out every day of the week than it took to mow it once per week on a single day. Then, you always had the concern about someone stealing it, break
    • by Faust7 (314817) on Friday May 16, 2003 @04:02PM (#5975286) Homepage
      Where are they though? I have yet to walk down my street and see a mowing robot or visit a friends house and see a robot cleaning the windows.

      That's because the first use that the sorts of people that fanatically follow robot news would have for a robot would be as a sex toy. They're all inside.
    • You probably won't see many robots in real life until they're a cheaper source of labor than illegal immigrants or family members under the age of 15. :)
  • Anybody moding their bot with lasers? You know for returning library books and stuff..

    Librarian: This book is overdue
    Geek: 'click'
    Robot: *whir* BZZZZ
    Librarian: We'll just take that fine off.. can I help you with anything else?
  • How much alcohol do said robots consume in a day?
  • Sensors? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Hayzeus (596826) on Friday May 16, 2003 @03:20PM (#5974990) Homepage
    Any sensors available other than the camera? For long term useage, I'd expect at least rudimentary obstacle sensing; a robot that runs around an unstructured environment for too long will generally not do to well without decent obstacle sensors. Anybody else have one of these that would care to comment?
    • They also have IR sensors to detect obstacles, for an extra fee, of course.
    • They have an IR pack listed on the site, and pics (in one of the galleries) of a still under development set of ultrasonic sensors.
    • Any sensors available other than the camera? For long term useage, I'd expect at least rudimentary obstacle sensing;

      Does rebooting upon collision count as "rudimentary"? I got one of those.
  • by EnVisiCrypt (178985) <groovetheoristNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Friday May 16, 2003 @03:20PM (#5974993)
    Techfocus aptly points out the Orwellian implications...

    robot: TARGET RECOGNIZED. PINCHERS ENGAGED

    me: OH NO! IT'S DELICATELY PINCHING MY ANKLES. DAMN THIS POLICE STATE I LIVE IN!

    Puh-lease. The image recognition will only be Orwellian to my cat, and *everything* is Orwellian to cats.
  • Nice... (Score:4, Funny)

    by newsdee (629448) on Friday May 16, 2003 @03:22PM (#5975009) Homepage Journal
    In the near future: a PDA that follows you around and carries all those electronics that doesn't fit in your pocket anymore. :-)

    You just will have to watch out for water, and thieves. :-)

    • You just will have to watch out for water, and thieves. :-)

      Those shouldn't be problems. With a moisture sensor you can have it deploy an umbrella automagically. Can the image recognition be programmed to recognize thieves and active some sort of self defense mechanism?

      -- Cameno
  • by burgburgburg (574866) <splisken06@em[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Friday May 16, 2003 @03:25PM (#5975027)
    optional gripping arm retails for an additional $199

    If it's my robot, that's not exactly optional.

    This sad statement brought to you by the Internet. If this had been a real sad statement, you'd have been instructed to look away, murmuring in pity. Thank you.

  • by freeze128 (544774) on Friday May 16, 2003 @03:26PM (#5975033)
    "The Laptop is getting away!"
  • How about (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    We quit using the word Orwellian.

    Especially for topics like this where it doesn't apply even remotely. Name one Orwell book about toy robots.

    God, you all are buzzword loving fucktards.
  • To funny... If you watch the Spooky Bot Around Town video on their website, there is a scene that is just like the part in Short Circut where Johny 5 is in the bookstore! LOL!

    Ok i guess this robot doesn't trash the place...
    Or get the cops called on him...
    And he's wearing a Spooky Bot Costume...
    nevermind... :(
  • It's Evolver [imdb.com] all over again!!!

    - OrbNobz
    And a table made of cheeeeese...and a chair made of cheeeeeese...
  • NO DISASSEMBLE JOHNNY FIVE!
  • by Ra5pu7in (603513) <ra5pu7in@gmaiLISPl.com minus language> on Friday May 16, 2003 @03:35PM (#5975094) Journal
    is the notion that the robot is not as much of a drag on CPU as one might suspect

    The largest requirement for a robot able to recognize objects would be memory/storage. Kind of like those 20 questions programs, it is very simple processing to compare input with a matrix of possibilities. As the closest match in one matrix is found, it can now compare the input to the next matrix. The storage space for the matrices would be immense as the robot became more sophisticated, but higher processing power would simply speed up the time to "recognize" an object.

    • by gwernol (167574) on Friday May 16, 2003 @03:51PM (#5975194)
      The largest requirement for a robot able to recognize objects would be memory/storage. Kind of like those 20 questions programs, it is very simple processing to compare input with a matrix of possibilities.

      I'm sorry but that's a gross simplification. Computer recognition of images, especially images of the real 3D world, is a very hard and computationally intense process. This problem is still at the cutting edge of research. Describing it as "simple processing to compare the input with a matrix of possibilities" is on the same level as describing Doom III as "adds a couple of numbers together and displays some colored dots on the screen". It may be at some level accurate but it misses out the hard parts entirely.

      To learn more, you could start at CMU's computer vision [cmu.edu] page. There's a whole world of interesting techniques out there, jump in and try some.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Umm, excuse me.

      Here on slashdot we only pretend we know everything about how a computer works.
  • Okay, bought one.

    Now, I just need to know what Battlebot weight class I'm in with my new robomonster! [evolution.com]

    Seriously though, it's base set-up doesn't look very rugged, nor stable... I doubt your laptop would survive the first fall down a couple stairs.

    It's still wicked cool for the price however.

  • Maybe one day I'll have my very own droid that can go with me everywhere and have all my pr0...um, I mean files with me so I can do all the stuff I want while on the move. All you need to do is make this little think the size of a trashcan, put some big-ass rechargable batteries in it, add some beeping and chirping and whistling, and there you have it. Your personal assistant in a can.
    Makes life easier when you don't have to lug arounda laptop. Simply have it follow you around. Of course the early model
    • Dean Kamen could even adapt his Segue to have it function on 2 wheels just like the real R2-D2 from the movies. Now wouldn't that be interesting?

      Ouch, man. Prepare to feel the wrath of geeks everywhere.

  • I don't know if it's just my side. I get a DNS error and then I go to techfocus.org, get redirected to https and just another click is the domain administration page.

    Strange.
    B

  • One interesting factoid is that the robot can recognize objects until the object is blocked - up to 40% - by something (like a piece of furniture).

    So what you're saying is that it can recognize something that it's looking at until it starts looking at whatever is in front of what it was looking at before?

    Technology like that just baffles the mind... :)

    ---
    Help stamp out and abolish redundancy.
  • ...the site listed by /. is slashdotted so here are some useful links. In a nut shell I am not sold by this thing because it lacks a real purpose(for myself anyways). Maybe one day I will move into a 10,000 sq foot house and have plenty of hallways, laptops and time to play around with the ER-1.

    http://www.siliconvalley.com/mld/siliconvalley/461 9368.htm [siliconvalley.com]

    http://www.evolution.com/product/consumer [evolution.com]
  • I don't understand why people get worked up about what is essentially a laptop-on-wheels. While that company has some cool software routines they are working on, the robot leaves a lot to be desired, and its price tag is prohibitive for what you get.

    Sony's AIBO provides a much more sophisticated legged design, and has a freely available OPEN SDK [openr.org] to allow you to create whatever kind of program that you want. You can even get refurbished models for $699 [aibo.com]!

    Which would you rather have in your living room?

  • by Tailhook (98486) on Friday May 16, 2003 @06:23PM (#5976376)
    Voice identification, natural speech recognition, facial identification, autonomous navigation (land, sea and air,) character recognition and an enormous spectrum of heuristic algorithms used throughout the modern world from thermostats to missiles...

    I've been thinking for some time about awareness. After I read Creation: Life and How to Make it book by Steve Grand, I began thinking that perhaps awareness isn't the mystery it is sometime built up to be. What if we eventually discover that being "aware" doesn't require the phenomenal amount of computation that is often estimated? What if we discover that natures method of achieving it is actually highly inefficient (in terms of...physical complexity?) and easy to replicate using digital hardware?

    At this point it is feasible to build a machine that can find you in a crowd (you, specifically, from among many others) talk to you, understand your commands and then travel where you tell it. This is already beyond the means of most animals.

    If what I suspect is true, cognition is a relatively simple closed loop goal seeking (that seems to be a contradiction) parallel algorithm connected to a vast repository of highly lossy associative storage that ceaselessly works to achieve reproduction. Awareness is an emergent property of the process. You are a side effect, in the same way the useful work of a LISP function is often implemented as a side effect.

    I'm not a professional AI researcher and it probably shows. I'll take it from someone who is. Martha Pollack, a professor at the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the University of Michigan and executive editor of the Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research recently said, "It's a crazy position to be in. As soon as we solve a problem, instead of looking at the solution as AI, we come to view it as just another computer system."

    The significant progress made in AI to-date appears to be the result of reverse engineering nature until the core implementation of some basic function becomes clear. Just how many interconnected functions are necessary before you have a "who"?
    • "Operation Dark Storm is GO! I repeat..."

      One thing is for sure, we aren't going to have to worry about a slave race of robots revolting in the real world. Why? Because we automate all the good, fun jobs and leave all the crap jobs for humans to do.

      Examples of fun jobs:

      Manufacturing - Working in a factory can be rewarding. there are lots of other people in blue coveralls to talk to and the lunch room is awesome. Now done by robot welders.

      Writing Short stories - AI does this all the time.

      Clerical jobs -
  • Erector Set (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Tablizer (95088)
    Our expectation of this product was that it would be relatively similar to setting up an Erector set, except with more complex circuitry.

    I always considered erector sets to be better for robotics experiments than legos, but I don't see erector set stuff much anymore. Did they go bankrupt? If so, why hasn't a Chinese toy firm resurrected the concept?

    Maybe its the name :-P
  • seems to like evolution robotics video files ;)

    Movie-Aspect is undefined - no prescaling applied.
    everything done. Thank you for downloading a media file containing proprietary and patentend technology.

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