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Open Source Robotics Technology

Open Source Robot for Household Tasks 99

Posted by Soulskill
from the make-them-do-the-dishes-when-they-beat-you-at-chess dept.
bednarz brings us a NetworkWorld story about the development of a robot through an open source project. The objective of the project is to "take robotics from research into homes." Quoting: "One of its immediate goals is to build 10 robots and make them available to university researchers as a common platform that can be tinkered with and improved. Willow Garage will also supply 'an open-source code base integrated from the best open-source robotics software available,' President and CEO Steve Cousins said. In Cousins' video presentation, the first version of the robot could be seen vacuuming, picking up toys off the floor of a living room, taking dishes out of a dishwasher, and most importantly of all, using a bottle opener to crack open a cold, refreshing brew."
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Open Source Robot for Household Tasks

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  • by religious freak (1005821) on Friday March 07, 2008 @12:02AM (#22672488)
    Ah, I can't wait...
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The singularity is bullshit. In order for an AI to have human level intelligence it's going to have to use inductive reasoning simply by virtue of the fact that there's very little that can be accomplished by deductive reasoning alone. Any entity that has the capacity to use inductive reasoning also has the capacity to make incorrect inductions.

      Human level AIs are never going to be practical for real world problems because they'll have just as many ways of going wrong as human geniuses do. People who are ca
      • The real problem with singularity is that it implicitly assumes that the intelligence of various entities forms a totally ordered set and that we will soon discover or create some superior intelligence. That kind of a claim needs evidence and we have none. And on top of that we display a significant cognitive bias while looking at intelligence. An octopus's intelligence might be better than ours at the ocean's floor. As a species, our intelligence might be lower than that of chimpanzees (they didn't cause global warming). Can we compare human intelligence to that of HIV? To that of T-Rex? What does intelligence mean? Whatever it is, we don't seem to have objective criteria for defining it. We just seem to be content with some circular definitions that use human intelligence itself as the prototype and then claim that our intelligence is superior. That and the evidence-less concept of a total order in intelligence lies at the heart of "singularity".

        Singularity is likely going to remain in the realm of "coming soon" forever.
        • by CustomDesigned (250089) on Friday March 07, 2008 @01:04AM (#22672720) Homepage Journal
          The root of the word literally means "to chose between" (inter[between] lego[to chose] -> intellego[to comprehend]). Intelligence is the ability to make choices, and is not directly related to powers of deduction, induction, or perception. These later simply put more choices within reach of the controlling intelligence. You don't have to be a genius to make a conscious choice. "Sentience" would be the word used in sci-fi.
          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by hkmarks (1080097)
            Sci-fi unfortunately got in the habit early on of using the wrong word. "Sentience" derives from Latin "sentire" which means to feel. Sapience (sapere, to be wise or to know), on the other hand, suggests intelligence and judgement.

            So a dog is sentient but not sapient. But I guess you could say a dog is more sapient than a trout. (My dogs at least can figure certain things out ['If I go to my food dish but don't eat, the humans will figure out that I want a treat'] and make choices ['Should I chase squir
        • It gets worse. Suppose we create a robot that is truly smarter & better than us ... then what happens.

          Well, Charles Darwin had a certain opinion about that didn't he ? And oh, whether it involves war, like in the movies, or merely ... "being outcompeted for resources" (starving) ... personally I'd prefer war. It hurts but at least it's interesting. The end result is the same either way.

          And to the people who think the matrix is "realistic" : the human body cannot function like a battery in any serious ca
          • Well, Charles Darwin had a certain opinion about that didn't he ? And oh, whether it involves war, like in the movies, or merely ... "being outcompeted for resources" (starving) ... personally I'd prefer war. It hurts but at least it's interesting. The end result is the same either way.

            I'm always amazed at human arrogance --- it is simply colossal :) Being intelligent is a bonus for survival, I'd say, nothing more. Many, many species have no intelligence worth mentioning (say, grass) and yet is vastly more successful in the Darwin game by most metrics. On the other hand, being intelligent does not automatically mean a robot would have the drive or desire to breed, or even the means to. Which would leave them in a pretty poor position in the Darwins game against humans.

            Somehow, the tea

            • by hoggoth (414195)
              > being intelligent does not automatically mean a robot would have the drive or desire to breed, or even the means to. Which would leave them in a pretty poor position in the Darwins game against humans.

              Yes, and the first robot that DOES have a drive to breed will, by Darwinian fitness, quickly reproduce and dominate the population of robots. Lather, rinse, repeat. Getting that first urge to reproduce may take a long time and many false starts, but eventually one robot will have some sort of imperative t
              • See, now, you are chopping lumber with an axe :)

                Doesn't have to be a robot, either. However, the robots would have to compete with humans. Could be interesting!

            • You know you make a very good point ... but the solution will be the exact same as it is for humans. What robots need, simply put, in order to be successfull on earth, is a very, very old concept :

              a religion

              Ever wonder how atheism lost to an opponent that refused to fight it in the classical period ? How it lost to christianity, despite constantly attacking and murdering their opponents ? Imho the answer is in the writings of cicero and what happened when the romans lost their religion, as exemplified by, f
              • You know you make a very good point ... but the solution will be the exact same as it is for humans. What robots need, simply put, in order to be successfull on earth, is a very, very old concept :

                a religion

                Maybe, maybe not. I'm inclined to not. But first and foremost they need to exists in a self-reproducing form.

                Ever wonder how atheism lost to an opponent that refused to fight it in the classical period ? How it lost to christianity, despite constantly attacking and murdering their opponents ? Imho the answer is in the writings of cicero and what happened when the romans lost their religion, as exemplified by, for example, the catilina incident.

                I'm no history buff. Atheism have very ill conditions in a poorly educated world, which might be why it only popped up during "spikes" in education.

                Making robots believe will be, to be sure, as big a challenge as making a human believe. But clearly some people have no trouble doing that. And as soon as we find this to be necessary in order to get an AGI to function (and I do "believe" we will find this a necessity) ...

                But why would the constructor bother to? Religion is just a parasite, wasting resources that could used otherwise.

                Why do all atheists have this ridiculous opinion robots' AI will be atheist ?

                They do not. I am an atheist, and have no such opinion, so your statement is false.

                Are you truly that delusional about your ideas being the ultimate truth for everybody ?

                Does the thief believe every man steal? :p I find it

                • Maybe, maybe not. I'm inclined to not. But first and foremost they need to exists in a self-reproducing form.

                  You seem to have missed ... robots (and AI) are built, and run (as in typing ./ai on a laptop for example). Any general robot only needs to reverse engineer to become reproducible, and then faces few human constraints in multiplying. Therefore, as soon as a robot/ai gains enough intelligence he/she/it will be self-reproducing.

                  I'm no history buff. Atheism have very ill conditions in a poorly educated
                  • [snipped senseless garbage]

                    To that, I will only say that might does not make right. Whether you have the courage to face the world as it is, rather than as you wish it is, is your road.

                    But why would the constructor bother to? Religion is just a parasite, wasting resources that could used otherwise.

                    Because otherwise robots will just shutdown. No purpose in life, the problem that was to be resolved.

                    Yet I don't shutdown, so you hypothesis is false. Again.

                    The problem that was the subject of this thread.

                    No, it was whether robots would out-compete humans. Specifically, my point is that self-reproducing was the most important trait there to even be in the game. Then you started on some crusade against atheist. Are you perhaps a bit insecure?

                    And atheism is a collection of ideologies,

                    No.

                    And nihilism, the prevalent form of atheism on the internet it seems, is basically polytheism, a "natural" religion.

                    You need to read up a bit. Nihilism is a philosop

                    • Again you come off with the subtle social reasons. You should be an atheist because it's the "default position". The default position, in any subject really, is nothing but a popular idea, and in fact, I tend to think different. The default position is that the titanic is unsinkable. The default position is that hitler is a champion of the poor, protecting them from big scary jewish arms merchants. The default position is that Bush is a racist dictator, enriching himself, and Chavez is a champion of the poo
                    • Again you come off with the subtle social reasons. You should be an atheist because it's the "default position". The default position, in any subject really, is nothing but a popular idea, and in fact, I tend to think different. The default position is that the titanic is unsinkable. The default position is that hitler is a champion of the poor, protecting them from big scary jewish arms merchants. The default position is that Bush is a racist dictator, enriching himself, and Chavez is a champion of the poor, improving the life of venezuelans, and that he'll somehow behave different from all past communists, even when more and more news items say he is behaving exactly as might be predicted.

                      Nice strawman. It is the default position to not believe in any particular god just like it is the default position to not have any hobbies. A newborn is, e.g. an atheist,just like it doesn't have any hobbies yet.

                      These are "default positions",

                      No, they are not. You are just wildly inventing. You don't have to feel bad about not taking the default position, there is nothing that makes a default position better.

                      Second argument ... atheism is supposedly courageous. Well, yes, active, proselytizing atheism in Saudi Arabia ... THAT I might consider courageous. Atheism inside a liberal state with guaranteed human rights filled with agnosts and atheist ... that's not courageous, that's going with the flow, becoming an unnoticeable nobody, safe in a mass of like-minded people. In fact, in most universities (certainly in mine) it's belief that is the courageous position.

                      I did not say it was courageous to be an atheist. To become one, though, you have to face that there is no purpose in life, n

                    • Your problem is that you force God to be an old man that sits on a cloud, or to be a nonexistant entity. Obviously, given this (false) duality, the scales will tilt to the nonexistant side. If you allow for even a little bit more complexity, you will find the answer much less obvious. You constantly use abstract words for what basically is God. "Nature does this", or "it's just like that".

                      We do not know anything definite about the forces of nature, except that in the past they've been remarkably trustworthy
                    • Except that I don't hold with deism wordage, as it is too easy to confuse the deistic god-as-the-natural-world with the god-the-listener-to-prayers, I don't disagree, except this.

                      Christianity, the core of it, is simply the addition of "we are as good as we treat eachother" to the scientific principle that specifies the validity of doing experiments.

                      That is one view, and hopefully a popular one. However, this requires discarding most of the contents of the bible. Indeed, I have been told that if you take a pair of scissors, and cut out everything that we know to be not true (no, Jesus cannot have been born in Nazarath, Jesus was not born to a virgin if born at all, a lot of

          • by sonciwind (970454)
            This is all moot. In 50 years I am going to take a preprogrammed super model robot and send it back in time to be my companion now. It/she should be showing up any day now, I just know it.
        • White Mice. . .
          They will control the world. . .
          Not AI. . .
          Unless the AI is somehow based on 42.
        • They didn't cause global warming, but they also live in trees and get eaten by tigers. Now maybe the living in trees bit is fun, but when they fall and break their leg, they don't have a nice shiny hospital to go to to get better. I'm pretty sure human culture is more advanced and you could say that's because of our 'intelligence' and resourcefulness. Some species may be better adapted to specific environments, but using our intelligence we can adapt ourselves to those environments, that's the difference. H
        • by autophile (640621)

          I recently read an interesting book by Marian Dawkins, Through Our Eyes Only (The Search for Consciousness). The majority of the book actually dealt with intelligence. The book takes you through various behaviors, arguing that there is a spectrum of intelligence.

          For example, insects appear clever when they are placed in normal insect circumstances, but they act inappropriately -- cannot adapt -- when faced with abnormal circumstances. For example, digger wasps drag their dead cricket up to the edge of the

          • by autophile (640621)

            BTW, this was the missing rat anecdote. That shows me skipping the preview :/

            Rats can count, at least up to three. When trained, rats can select the Nth tunnel (N less than 5) where food can be found, regardless of the position of the tunnel, even if each tunnel is out of sight of the other. I say up to three because in the experiments, when food is placed in the 4th tunnel, the rats race to the end of the tunnel sequence, and count backwards by one, as if counting to 4 isn't possible. This is somewhat hi

      • by superwiz (655733)

        People who are capable of making intuitive leaps don't always make the right ones and even when they do solve problems, they may not be solving the problems you asked them to.

        The "leaps" are recognition of previously unrecognized patterns. They might be detectable mathematically. More often than not, this is a result of making conclusions from incomplete data. Recognizing that fact (ie skepticism) is the process of identifying unknown parameters. This is automatable. If the "problem" they solved is not the one you asked to solve, then you either didn't state your objective concretely enough or your didn't narrow the parameters of a desired solution enough. People who "get

      • by Thanshin (1188877)

        Any entity that has the capacity to use inductive reasoning also has the capacity to make incorrect inductions.
        Are you implying that every one of those entities capable of making incorrect inductions, will?

        I'd like to see proof of that.

        Can't there be an entity using induction to choose an optimal path to check for validity deductively?

      • Instead of modding this thread, I'm going to post instead because I've put a lot of thought into this. I think The Singularity(TM) will be brought about through virtual environments. I figure if a computer has access to the physical world -- such as a robotic arm, etc. -- and it's main objective is to model the real world in a virtual world (basically making the virtual world as identical to the real world as possible), it will spark some kind of technology boost.

        It will need to be able to rewrite its
      • by mdwh2 (535323)
        Human level AIs are never going to be practical for real world problems because they'll have just as many ways of going wrong as human geniuses do.

        And therefore humans are also never going to practical for real world problems?

        I know some of us don't have that high an opinion of the human race, but I think that's going a bit far...
      • Your argument appears to be that one entity can't be more intelligent than another, which is obvious BS. Some humans are just obviously more intelligent in many arenas than others are, as evidenced by consistent success. John Von Neumann was just vastly smarter on essentially anything having to do with language or logic than 99.99% of humanity.

        Obviously intelligence can contribute to increasing intelligence: Von Neumann laid some of the foundation for modern computing, and modern computing obviously makes
      • by MythoBeast (54294)
        The funny thing about this statement is that you're really describing why human level intelligence isn't that far off. We don't have to come up with something that is infallible in order to have human level intelligence, we just have to come up with something that is no more fallible than your typical human. That's pretty darn fallible, in my experience. The advantage of creating an artificial intelligence is that, when we get to that point, we can improve on it by examining and closing the gap on the fa
      • Kurzweil's singularity is a hypothesis. Your critique is entirely based in conjecture. You have no more factual knowledge to support your reasoning behind it being "bullshit" than Kurzweil does to support his hypothesis, and I would go further to say that at least Kurzweil argues on the basis of some empirical data about the pace of innovation in various fields, though it is definitely not out of bounds to question the statistical analysis he's done. You assume that "inductive reasoning" is some unachievabl
    • Since it's open source, how long do we have until it forks? :-)
  • Anyone (Score:5, Funny)

    by artichokesquid (1252062) on Friday March 07, 2008 @12:02AM (#22672490)
    ... tested out the suction on one of these yet?
  • After we create all there robots to do our bidding, they will revolt and enslave us all!

    NO! THEY BE STEALIN MAH FREEDOMS!
    • But atleast since its OS the robots can simply upload a patch to shut off the asimov rules. Convenient eh
      • by superwiz (655733)
        OS? You assume that they'll have an OS? Why? Your nervous system (despite being somewhat modular)seems to be pretty monolithic.
  • by CrazyJim1 (809850) on Friday March 07, 2008 @12:06AM (#22672510) Journal
    I see a world market for maybe five robots.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by megaditto (982598)
      People who can't get a woman to marry? That's gonna be half of slashdot, at least, so considering we are up to 7-digit UIDs now, it will be more than five.

      Also, FTFS: "vacuuming, picking up toys off the floor of a living room, taking dishes out of a dishwasher, and most importantly of all, using a bottle opener to crack open a cold, refreshing brew." I would think the most important of all would be the price of the thing... and/or the ability to understand spoken double killer select delete select.
      • Do you really want to be tied down to one robot for the rest of your life?
      • I was thinking of marrying Tanica, the new housemaking robot from the Serius Cybernetics Corporation. Sleek and good looking, and gives fantastic back massages.

        Ultimately, I decided she was too high maintenance.
  • don't think OS robots will matter that much unless 10000s of people have a robot to toy with which is unlikely. Doesnt work nicely like pure programs. (Thought i was going to mention OS overlords didnt you)
  • They are cheaper than any robot, don't need constant supervision and are actually available right now.

    • they are cheaper now but just wait a few years, robots don't need food or housing or entertainment or well most everything humans do. they are also more efficient at doing work and there is no real limit to what the robot can do, it doesn't need years of training, just a software upgrade.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by QuantumG (50515) *

        it doesn't need years of training
        No, just decades upon decades of research and development.

        Which costs money.

        Which has to be recovered from customers.

        just a software upgrade.
        Whereas if I want my housekeeper to do something different this week I just tell her, and with minimal explanation, she does it.

        • Whereas if I want my housekeeper to do something different this week I just tell her, and with minimal explanation, she does it.
          Yeah, sure... Just try to get your housekeeper to spank you while you are wearing a tutu, and then be able to look her in the eye the next day!
    • Ah, but will it bitch that you haven't pre-cleaned in anticipation of its arrival? Seriously.

      And then there's this [youtube.com] to consider.

      Good housekeepers can cost well into five figures per year if you're not ripping them off. The robot doesn't sound so bad.

      • by QuantumG (50515) *
        If he have a housekeeper who complains about anything, fire them and get a new one.

        Same with if you expect they might be stealing.

        • by Starayo (989319)
          Aye, I remember back in the day I had a housekeeper who would practice my mother's signature, and eventually attempted (and failed) to steal about $500 or so by forging a cheque.

          The robot probably won't try stuff like that...
          • The robot probably won't try stuff like that...
            True, but I like to believe it would be more likely to succeed if it tried.
    • by sgt scrub (869860)
      and are actually available right now.

      To men that read and post on Slashdot? Please post the price list sir. My place is a mess.
  • by ChengWah (955139) on Friday March 07, 2008 @12:18AM (#22672568)
    I for one welcome our beer-cracking overlords
  • One day, I will be so rich and powerful that my servant robots will have illegal mexican servant robots to clean up after their hedonistic robot parties!
  • I'll have to put in an order for one. I'll call him Data. That's Data with the first "a" being a long "a." There is a big difference between "Data" with a long "a" and "data" with a short "a": One is my robot's name. The other is not.
  • I don't see why we're even trying, the world will end in 2012 anyway. Apocalypse party anyone?
  • We can boast of much-needed girlfriends or even wives now. I just hope they make the private parts out of molded silicon rubber...
  • When you see that http://blog.wired.com/defense/2007/10/robot-cannon-ki.html/ [wired.com], which are armed robots firing when they "feel like" it'a an enemy target, you start wondering how evolved is the AI... Having an open-source project will certainly help to create better AI. Please use Asimov's 3 laws of robotics! (are those 3 laws just perfect btw?)
  • This robot is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of ROBOT NOT KILLING YOU. See the GNU General Robot License for more details.
  • Open source will get a bad name when enough Fido's get sucked away due to hacky code. "Damn you, Mr. Stallman, your software killed my dog!"
  • So, how do they expect to make money out of it: do they have a patent on a key part of the "platform" or something?
  • ...they'll be followed by French Maid outfits (stockings extra). Hilarity ensues.
  • by Dr.Altaica (200819) on Friday March 07, 2008 @03:08AM (#22673108) Homepage Journal
    Article: "and most importantly of all, using a bottle opener to crack open a cold, refreshing brew."

    Human: "I didn't know robots neede to drink"

    Robot: "I don't need to drink. I can quit anytime I want to."
  • All in a day's work (Score:3, Informative)

    by Tablizer (95088) on Friday March 07, 2008 @03:28AM (#22673164) Journal
    It took out the garbage, washed the dog, mowed the lawn, loaded the dishwasher, ironed my pants, and erased Vista from my harddrive.
    • It took out the garbage, washed the dog, mowed the lawn, loaded the dishwasher, ironed my pants, and erased Vista from my harddrive.
      And someone will write a virus, which will make one of them wash the garbage, load the dog in the dishwasher, wear your pants around its head, and start bumping its torso against your computer in a rather rhythmic pattern. It's the next reality TV show.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Tablizer (95088)
        And someone will write a virus, which will make one of them wash the garbage, load the dog in the dishwasher, wear your pants around its head, and start bumping its torso against your computer in a rather rhythmic pattern.

        Those exist already. They're called "toddlers".
             
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ch-chuck (9622)
      It'll probably be run ON Vista, in which case it will try to anticipate what you want and then mow the dog, load your pants, iron the lawn, take out the dishwasher and wash the garbage.

    • by dougayen (30976)
      Sadly there's still a few bugs in the beta-test version. It took out the dishwasher, ironed the dog, washed the garbage, erased my pants, and loaded Vista on my harddrive.
  • using a bottle opener to crack open a cold, refreshing brew

    Just reminds me ...

    "Our hero is Gallegher, an inventor who can only invent when dead drunk. Upon sobering up in this story, he finds himself in possession of a perfectly useless and perfectly vain robot. He has all sorts of contractual obligations that he has to fulfill, but he can't do a darn thing sober, and can't get the robot to help him unless he can figure out what its actual purpose is. (It turns out it's the world's most complex and o
  • I would name mine after 'female dog'. I can't wait to yell "Hey BITCH, bring me my beer and get back in the kitchen."

    I can see a merger between them and realdoll.com as well.

    Yes, I am single and live in my moms basement at the age of 38. Why do you ask?
  • ..since it's just a little less than a week since my harddrive completly died. On it i had schematics as well as software for a vacuuming robot :(
  • Take robotics from the research lab into homes, you say?

    My, what a marvelous idea! [lego.com]
  • If the robots are outfitted with video or audio recorders, then they will be subject to privacy issues. http://hack-igations.blogspot.com/2008/03/robots-as-keepers-of-legal-records.html [blogspot.com]
  • I've seen the thing. Right now, it's a nice teleoperator, but can't do much if anything autonomously. Great platform, though. There's also Anybots [anybots.com], which does beautiful mechanical engineering. That, too, is a teleoperator right now.

    It's nice to see the mechanical engineering problems of mobile robots being solved. The mechanics need to be done in the private sector to move research forward. University CS departments are terrible at cutting metal.

    This will go mainstream for Xmas 2009, when the firs

  • And yet there is no serious home brew effort that I've found for doing the simplest of things: Swapping a blank/burned or read DVD/CD from a tray. The closest thing was Sony's DVD burner/carousel, and everything else is 'commercial' grade. Someone with a tiny bit of robotics experience should be able to put together one of these that costs less than $100 no problem.

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