Robots That Jump

Robot Bodies Needed Before Robot Minds

Robots That Jump – Historical, June 9-17, 2003

Tuesday, June 17, 2003
Hans Moravec does it – SEEGRID goes commercial
It was with great pleasure that I saw that robotics pioneer Hans Moravec has begun the process of commercializing his decades of work in robot vision and navigation into a commercial form. The new company, SEEGRID, will apply the mapping techniques developed by Moravec to create better robot navigation compared to the first-generation robots out there. In his own words,

“Our work leapfrogs these early offerings by building dense realistic 3D maps of a vehicle’s surroundings, suitable not only for simple position and obstacle finding, but also for safely exploring new routes and for recognizing large features such as walls, floors and doors as well as smaller objects including humans. “

Compared to most robot vision, these 3D internal maps – sort of a low-level perception of the robot – are amazingly detailed. At present, virtually all robots use 2D image processing. You can see some of the recent ones at:

http://www.frc.ri.cmu.edu/~hpm/seegrid.html

In particular, check out the older (2001) animated gifs on the following page:

http://www.frc.ri.cmu.edu/~hpm/project.archive/robot.papers/2001/ARPA.MARS/Report.0103.html

These moving maps created by the animated gifs (second link) give a real “3D” feel for the mapping. This is the level of perception a robot has to have to even begin moving intelligently around its environment. Its great to imagine good robotic vision finally catching up the advances in robot bodies.

IMHO, this is technology to get excited over, particularly compared to the computerized junk showing up in “gadget” magazines this summer. Check out a recent article in the Guardian:

Tuesday June 17, 2003
The Guardian
http://media.guardian.co.uk/newmedia/story/0,7496,979122,00.html

This article does a great job showing how the tech industry, particularly the PC-related side, is still in a 1990s dreamland, and hasn’t yet figured out that post Sept 11th, the hype is slowly falling away. We’re going to want things that work rather than inflated promises and “coolness”. But the hi-tech elite continues dreaming of cyberspace, swanky parties, NASDAQ 15,000 and the like.

The Guardian article quotes Patrick Dixon, Fellow of the Centre for Management Development at London Business School, and author of Futurewise on the impact of 3G cellphones:

“Let’s say there’s a big terrorist bomb in London and say there are 500,000 video phones there and it’s well known that CNN, Sky and the BBC pay for video clips, and you’re just walking past. Within one second you can press record and the send button to CNN and suddenly your video could be on CNN live.”

According to Bill Strauss, this is true – unless, of course, either you or CNN is blown up by the bomb. Didn’t think of that, did you Mr. Dixon! Being first on TV with information about a disaster is not a noble aspiration for tech. But “personal tech” is increasingly advertised as a way to do sleazy things while expending ever less energy doing them – as if our destiny it to be smug, self-centered, and physically motionless — except for the glitter of ad messages projected across our corneas.

Dixon hasn’t figured out yet that we aren’t in a Hollywood movie anymore. A huge disaster like he describes should illustrate many other uses for 3G than being first on the block with the body parts. If it doesn’t, it is worthless technology. He can’t even think of any – apparently that would be un-cool.

The same could be said for Hollywood as well. Here we are, with the first real robots reaching the public, the era when robots leave the world of fantasy characters (like elves) and become real, and we have “Terminator 3.” Check out http://www.terminator3.com – I’ve never seen a bigger waste of Flash programming anywhere. Spinning, rotating, pseudo controls in cyberspace that take 2 minutes to load. Ag.

What’s the movie about? A female Terminator and an old “obsolete” Terminator. What exactly does “female robot” mean, anyway?

Art is interesting when it presents issues, concepts, emotions in a way that lets us experience them more clearly. How does this dog of a movie do that for robotics? We’re moving away from the “Terminator” image already elsewhere – apparently the franchise doesn’t quite know this yet. The second “Matrix” film did slightly better, revealing the Oracle to be a sentient AI. Not great, but not quite bottom-feeding on tech hype.

Here’s to the people creating robots for real…

– posted by Pete @ 11:04 PM


Hans Moravec does it – SEEGRID goes commercial
It was with great pleasure that I saw that robotics pioneer Hans Moravec has begun the process of commercializing his decades of work in robot vision and navigation into a commercial form. The new company, SEEGRID, will apply the mapping techniques developed by Moravec to create better robot navigation compared to the first-generation robots out there. In his own words,

“Our work leapfrogs these early offerings by building dense realistic 3D maps of a vehicle’s surroundings, suitable not only for simple position and obstacle finding, but also for safely exploring new routes and for recognizing large features such as walls, floors and doors as well as smaller objects including humans. ”

Compared to most robot vision, these 3D internal maps – sort of a low-level perception of the robot – are amazingly detailed. At present, virtually all robots uses 2D image processing. You can see some of the recent ones at:

http://www.frc.ri.cmu.edu/~hpm/seegrid.html

In particular, check out the older (2001) animated gifs on the following page:

http://www.frc.ri.cmu.edu/~hpm/project.archive/robot.papers/2001/ARPA.MARS/Report.0103.html

These moving maps give a real “3D” feel for the mapping. This is the level of perception a robot has to have to even begin moving around its environment. Its great to imagine good robotic vision finally catching up the advances in robot bodies.

IMHO, this is technology to be excited over, particularly compared to the junk showing up in “gadget” magazines this summer. Check out a recent article in the Guardian:

Tuesday June 17, 2003
The Guardian
http://media.guardian.co.uk/newmedia/story/0,7496,979122,00.html

Here’s a great quote showing how the tech industry, particularly the PC-related side, is still in a 1990s dreamland, and hasn’t yet figured out that post Sept 11th the hype is slowly falling away. We’re going to want things. The hi-tech elite continues dreaming of cyberspace. The Guardian article quotes Patrick Dixon, Fellow of the Centre for Management Development at London Business School, and author of Futurewise on the impact of 3G cellphones:

“Let’s say there’s a big terrorist bomb in London and say there are 500,000 video phones there and it’s well known that CNN, Sky and the BBC pay for video clips, and you’re just walking past. Within one second you can press record and the send button to CNN and suddenly your video could be on CNN live.”

According to Bill Strauss, this is true – unless, of course, either you or CNN is blown up by the bomb. Didn’t think of that, did you Mr. Dixon. Being first on TV with information about a disaster is not a noble aspiration! But “personal tech” is increasingly advertised as a way to do sleazy things while expending ever less energy – as if our destiny it to be motionless except for the glitter of ad messages projected across our corneas.

Dixon hasn’t figured out yet that we aren’t in a Hollywood movie anymore. A huge disaster like he describes should have many other uses for 3G than being first on the block with the body parts. If it doesn’t, it is worthless technology.

The same could be said for Hollywood as well. Here we are, with the first real robots reaching the public, the era when robots leave the world of fantasy characters (like elves) and become real, and we have “Terminator 3.” Check out http://www.terminator3.com – I’ve never seen a bigger waste of Flash programming anywhere. Spinning, rotating, pseudo controls in cyberspace that take 2 minutes to load. Ag. What’s the movie about? A female Terminator. What exactly does that mean, anyway? Art is interesting when it presents issues, concepts, emotions in a way that lets us experience them more clearly. How does this dog do that for robotics? We’re moving away from the “Terminator” image already – apparently the franchise doesn’t quite know this yet. The second “Matrix” film did slightly better, revealing the Oracle to be a sentient AI. Not great, but not quite bottom-feeding on tech hype.

Here’s to the people creating robots for real…

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