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Lego Robot Plays Tetris 94

kkleiner writes "What's the surest sign that robots aspire to be more like humans? They play video games. The Tetris-Bot operates completely without human interference to play games of old school Tetris on a computer. Creator Branislov Kisacanin patched together a webcam, a digital signaling processing board, and some NXT Lego as a fun educational project for his kids."

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Lego Robot Plays Tetris

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  • by Monkeedude1212 ( 1560403 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @12:33PM (#31911992) Journal

    But THIS is why I read slashdot. All that other news stuff is just fluff.

  • by Em Emalb ( 452530 ) <> on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @12:35PM (#31912012) Homepage Journal

    A robot doesn't "aspire" to anything. They're frigging electronics, metal and plastic.

    • by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @12:36PM (#31912054)

      Don't anthropomorphize them, they hate it when you do that.

    • This has to be the collest story I have read in weeks, and all you can do is critize a tounge in cheek comment?

    • But the chemical composition of human beings changes that? You do know that your brain simply processes electrical signals right, and that we've made great strides in using man made robotic components to send signals to the brain, thus furthering the notion that we are not all as different as you seem.

      Yes - we've heard it all before, they just run programs. What if we manage the impossible taks of reverse engineering all the things that make being human into a mathematical algorithm and have a robot run the

      • I dunno. Depends on where you're coming from. If you're a believer in some religions, then no, it's not a life because it doesn't have a soul. But if you're an atheist, then it could be, except it doesn't "die". So I dunno.

        I do know that dogs and cats have souls. Some humans don't.

        • If I found someone who faithfully followed a religion to that end, I would argue that I don't see why a Robot couldn't have a soul.

          • I agree with you. It's one of the reasons I was turned off of religion at a very early age. (Was told that my dog that had just died didn't have a soul so it wouldn't be in heaven when I made it.)

            WTF, preacher!?! Excellent job, "tending" your flock. :-/

          • That's the difference between man-made and God-made according to most religions. That reminds me of a joke I heard once. A scientist who perfected cloning confronted God one day and said "We don't need you anymore. We can create humans ourselves!" So God challenged him to a contest. If the scientist could create a more perfect man, God would leave. The scientist accepted and proceeded to pick up a handful of dirt. "Wait, wait, wait... hold on a second!" said God, "Get your own dirt!"
        • It doesn't die of old age, but it still might be "stupid" and walk into the path of an oncoming bus and "die"...
        • But if you're an atheist, then it could be, except it doesn't "die".

          That is not dead, which can eternal lie.
          Yet in strange ovens, I could bake a pie.

              -- H.P. Lovescrust.

          • i think you got some... cooking mama.. in your... lovecraftian horror?
            *headdesk* i need some sleep.

        • by Smauler ( 915644 )

          I do know that dogs and cats have souls. Some humans don't.

          You do know that dogs and cats are engineered to get along with humans, by humans, don't you? So if they have a soul, then we have created it. Actually I'll stop fucking about - that comment is moronic beyond all categorisation. You have set yourself up to judge which entities have souls, it just happens to coincide with animals that we've bred to live alongside us, and excludes some "nasty" humans in your opinion.

          IMO... Dogs and cats don't hav

          • You do know that dogs more than likely domesticated themselves right? And that cats, according to a lot of scientists and behaviorists, aren't really even domesticated at all?

            You also do realize the above comment you're referring to was a "throw-away" comment on an article about a stupid tetris playing lego machine? Right? If not, not really my concern. Moronic comment? Please. I can do much much worse.

            IMO... Dogs and cats don't have souls. People don't have souls. Arguing about souls does not actuall

        • there's the biological definition of life: a few simple rules that apply to (nearly) all that we know of as "living".
          - it has dna
          - it reproduces (and can produce at least grandchildren)
          - it takes in substances and processes it into other substances for nourishment
          - something something
          - ???
          - profit! ... waaaait. something went wrong there.

          • According to your definition (at least the first half, which I take was still serious), mules aren't alive, since they cannot reproduce, correct?
            • well, my bio teacher explained that away with that it has to qualify for MOST of the rules he named, and mules didn't really come up. virii/viruses did, though.

        • I do know that dogs and cats have souls.

          Yes, they have R-souls, or they wouldn't be able to shit.

      • Is it not a life because it doesn't age?
        Life is defined scientifically as the ability to utilize resources to sustain oneself. In most basic terms, that makes it seem like a robot could be considered alive, except that it is completely and utterly dependent upon someone else to supply it that resource, and is not able to go out and forage for resources on its own. Some exceptions sort of barely apply.
        • Well if you bring religion into it, one could argue by that definition that we are not life either as we depend on God to provide us food through plant/animal growth.
        • Life is not defined scientifically, period. It's a perceived property. You can try to define it rigorously, but (as always, outside pure mathematics) there's nothing substantial separating the marginal cases on this or that side of the boundary. For myself, I'm not engaging in any more long-winded arguments about whether virii or fires are alive. If they are, then they hardly are; if they're not, then they almost are. Case closed.
    • by Senzo ( 1793254 )
      Haven't you seen I, Robot? There takin's just a matter of time.
    • Shouldn't that be Whisky Tango Foxtrot?
    • by Deosyne ( 92713 )

      Screw that, I'm hedging my bets by being cool with them now. When the first machines finally become sentient, I'm hoping that they'll recognize that I was their bud all along and not just rip my limbs off like the rest of their former slave masters.

  • by Drethon ( 1445051 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @12:35PM (#31912014)
    So will someone make Tetris blocks out of legos and come up with a robot that plays Tetris physically, perhaps even in 3d?
    • Let's work together on this. I'll cover the falling part, you find a way to make the rows disappear.

      • Well, one could use smooth-surface pieces around the Tetris blocks and there would be a hole in the wall at the level of the first block, so a mechanical arm could push the blocks on that line out of field. But that would require something else to hold the blocks together during the fall...
    • how about a lego robot that can play lego and build other lego robots? I smell trouble!
      • It won't be gray goo, then. It'll be jagged rainbow-colored goo that clacks and clicks as it pursues you to disassemble you into your constituent bricks.

        You know, I didn't mean to make that rhyme, but why not?

        Anyway, I think you have nothing to fear from the impending macrotechnology* apocalypse unless you, or your property, are made of Legos.

        *You can't call it nanotechnology; have you seen how big those bricks can get?

        • Anyway, I think you have nothing to fear from the impending macrotechnology apocalypse unless you, or your property, are made of Legos.

          I'm pretty sure our LEGO overlords can figure out how to make plastics out of biomass. It's all hydrocarbons, right?

      • They're not lego robots but you mean like this [] or this []?
    • I don't know, but I'm using my lego robotics to cheat at Pokemon. [] This is physical, because it's creating artificial motion to pump up my Pokemon-pedometer ("Pokewalker"), thereby circumventing a device designed to get lazy people to move their lazy asses. Who needs exercise when you have SCIENCE!

    • by blair1q ( 305137 )

      That's the thing about robots. You can make them play with themselves and they can't figure out how to win.

  • Dating myself a little here (although this is /., we all date ourselves amirite?), but when I was younger, the Amiga was in my room. For good, most of the time, but occasionally I'd wake up at 3 am and find one or both of my parents hunched over the keyboard, clicking away in the darkness, waiting for that goddamn green one to show up before the stack got too high. They had a pretty serious addiction.

    Poor robot.
  • by RyanFenton ( 230700 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @12:40PM (#31912102)

    On a closely related note, here's another video of a tool-assisted playing of Tetris, with an interesting mystery to it:

    Clicky []

    It won't make sense at first, but once you get it, you'll see a little more art in the art of video games.

    Ryan Fenton

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Doing that is actually a special rank in Tetris The Grand Master.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @12:57PM (#31912354)

    This is a (probably expensive) DSP decoding the video and then the lego robot figuring out how to move. Give that robot some vision of its own, and I'll be more impressed.

    • The article mentions that it needed a webcam and a DSP. I can't watch the video here at work, but doesn't that imply that the robot does have vision of it's own?
      • The robot is redundant. Its only task is to press the keys on the keyboard. They could have made it a lot faster, cheaper, and more efficient by simply wiring the output directly to the computer's keyboard input. But that wouldn't involve any unnecessary Lego.
    • ...and they also put the (unused) sonar sensor on top the robot to make it look more human.
    • So glue the DSP and the webcam to the robot.

      Presto! Problem solved - a robot that plays Tetris.

      Serious question, does an integrated system such as this qualify to be a robot even if the components are physically separate?
  • Can it play Hell []?
  • to say that I flee our new robotic overlords! I figure that this can only mean that both the Mayans and John Cameron were partially correct. The end of days will happen in December 2012 like the Mayans predicted, but it will be due to Skynet achieving self awareness, not any kind of cosmic alignment. I have to admit it is sort of sad to see that mankind will be hunted down by terminators constructed from small Danish building blocks, and not the cool steel cyborgs depicted in the films.
  • Pretty lame. You have a game that is basically some blocks that are placed somewhere. Lego is a a toy that places blocks some place. Wake me when tetris is not on the screen, but actual lego.

    (OK, I am just jealous)

  • Would've been more fun to see this idea paired with Ishikawa Komuro Lab's high-speed robot hand we saw a few weeks back... []
  • I've thought about this back in the days of Pacman and Defender about the feasibility of creating a machine with vision and mechanical access to the controls of a game if it could be taught to play indefinitely (at least for the games that had no real end).

    I don't think this is the first time it has been applied to Tetris. But it shouldn't be hard to solve Space Invaders. Asteroids would be an interesting challenge. A computer playing Centipede perfectly would be very impressive (if it had to physically spi

    • by tepples ( 727027 )

      I don't think this is the first time it has been applied to Tetris. But it shouldn't be hard to solve Space Invaders.

      Tetris has been solved [], though not the older version from 1985 seen in the video.

  • First Lego League (Score:2, Interesting)

    by nkovacs ( 1199463 )
    For all the tech geeks out there interested in volunteering there is a great program called First Lego League to help gets kids get excited about technology. The program uses the Lego NXT kit like in the video. Legos + robotics + getting kids excited about technology = win. []
  • I'd rather be impressed if someone combined Intelligent TETRIS [] with Bastet []. It would be interesting to see if itetris' smartness could beat Bastet's evilness.
  • It'd be interesting to make a bot like this that plays MMOs or something equally repetitive -- is that against terms of service? How would they know?

    I remember making a "robot" to beat Ruby Weapon in FF7, which consisted of a coffee cup pressing the X button -- the fight took 2 hours thanks to summon animations.

    • by Rewind ( 138843 )

      It'd be interesting to make a bot like this that plays MMOs or something equally repetitive -- is that against terms of service? How would they know?

      I remember making a "robot" to beat Ruby Weapon in FF7, which consisted of a coffee cup pressing the X button -- the fight took 2 hours thanks to summon animations.

      Wouldn't that just attack? No summons no inv and you would get owned? Plus I mean if you wanted to cheese an optional boss that was just there for you to have fun with there are many ways to end the fight quickly. Lucky 7s, Vincent bug, etc.

      • Nope. You put cursor on "memory". You let every party member die except 1. After the you have one party member left, you use the materia allowing you to multisummon. The first summon puts the boss to sleep (hades? It's been a while) but does little damage. 2nd summon does damage of your choice (bahamut? Doesn't matter really. You could actually beat it with just hades, but it does so little damage...)

        Mime. With sufficient haste, you can then simply mime again for the rest of the fight. Ruby never

        • I misspoke. You actually use hades second. First summon does damage, then he's immediately put to sleep by hades.

  • ...So a robot made of bricks playing a game, in which bricks fall down... nice touch...
  • A bot to do this for a more complicated games like FPSs would be interesting. To play well would involve solving a number of AI/computer vision problems. The bot would have to pick out enemies from the image it was seeing, it would have to figure out where it was on the map from visual cues and determine where to go, and so on. It would be a simplification of the problem of creating a robot that can intelligently navigate its environment, with the actual physical robot abstracted away to "push the stick fo
  • Sorry folks, but while I'm a total n00b when it comes to robots, I believe I could come up with a much better Tetris solving programm in a single day. Is it just me or is that bot really bad at Tetris?

    • by brkello ( 642429 )
      Probably the least interesting part is the algorithm to play Tetris. Could you do a better job in a day? Maybe. The interesting part is the DSP/robot aspect of it. Anyone can write a program to play checkers or chess or whatever. Getting the program to rely on external sensors and be able to manipulate its that's cool.
  • Of course it can be solved with a simple algorithm. Using peripherals made for humans, of course makes it harder, but in this case not very much.

  • by rdnetto ( 955205 )

    Anyone know anything about the AI behind this? Tetris is NP-Complete, so how is it solving it?

The unfacts, did we have them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude.