Mobile Robot Toy Cat

Mobile Robot Toy CatIn 1998/1999, we built a mobile robot toy cat based on the EyeBot-board and LEGO. While it was much fun and sometimes enlightening, ultimately we were sorely disappointed with the State-of-the-Art and now take only a cursory interest in this field.

A short story to illustrate shortcomings of robotics technology: I had the pleasure to be one of the many spectators of RoboCup '99 in Stockholm which featured a Sony legged-robot league and can therefore fully confirm that they resemble cats much more than dogs. Take the following scene: the robot struggles to walk towards the ball, eventually reaches it, lifts his paw, kicks the ball successfully into the goal - however, unfortunately it was the wrong goal, even though the goal colors were blue vs. yellow with an orange ball in front of a dark green background, despite carefully controlled lighting conditions and even black hoods for the human players who had to rearrange the robots about twice per minute since they kept bumping into each other and into the boundaries. It was still most impressing that some of the robots "died" in such a convincing, life-like way, showing erratic and spastic random movement before they froze and crashed completely.

This convinced me that Robotics has still some decades to go before it gets interesting for me again. Of course this might happen sooner than expected... but still, the most successful applications of robotics are those where the task to be achieved was re-engineered - consider e.g. a dishwashing machine.