by Dr. Rob van der Bijl, Amsterdam, Netherlands
In May 2008 Rob van der Bijl (RVDB) launched the ROBBY Project which serves as the prologue of a 20year investigation into the use of robotics (2008-2028). Welcome at the Robotics-page of RVDB.
cars (part 1 – some history)
August 2016: A dream. Talking (and smoking!) with your wife while your car smoothly continues the ride on a freeway in Los Angeles. This was the kind of dream depicted on the cover of Popular Science, October 1967. Much has happened since then, but the real breakthrough of automated cars still have to come. Despite all news and noise Tesla’s Autopilot Technology Package doesn’t represent mature self-driving technology as the fatal accident proved (May 2016). Note for hobby-engineers and nerds: Tesla’s technology is still in stage 2 (non-back-up & driver-support only) of the long, 5-stage road to full automation.
We studied the
automated Citroen DS of UK's Transport
Research (1968), we enjoyed the long forgotten ‘dual-mode’ Urbmobile (first image) of Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory, Inc. for
the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (1967).
our heart out at the optimistic almost childish predictions
from 1956, where families played dominoes in bubble roofed, electronically
guided Cadillacs (second image). See also this hilarious
video of General Motors musical short ‘Key to the Future’,
made for the 1956 Motorama auto show, which predicted self-driving
cars in the far-off
future of 1976 – here
at YouTube ...
This is not
September 2014: This is not a robot. It’s a simple, toy-like table-top object. Still it mirrors robot culture, it alludes to our techno-oriented culture, full of believes in engaged robotics and blessed technology. Will robots ever dream? A valid question or not. Will this clock-robot ever dream of electric sheep, or hairy cats? Watch our video from the French department of our Robotics Lab here...
2013: Early this year Micromagic Systems (Winchester, UK) unveiled
Mantis, according to his creators "the biggest,
all-terrain operational hexapod robot in the world." Mantis
can be piloted or remote WiFi-controlled. We like our hexapod friend.
He (or she?) is quite impressive. Turbo Diesel-powered Mantis stands
2.8 metres high with a five meter working envelope and weighing in
at just under two tonnes.
have a Soul!
2013: Famous Japanese 'Robo Prof' Hiroshi Ishiguro attempts
to mimic shape, expression, motion, and behavior of human beings.
His robots have a 'soul'. They act as closely as possible to human
July 2012: Printable Robots are coming! Researchers of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft
(Munich, Germany) are working on a printable high-tech spider for hazardous
missions. Spiders are very agile, and some can even jump. They owe this
capability to their hydraulically operated limbs. The researchers of
Fraunhofer have designed a mobile robot modeled on the same principle
that moves spider legs. They are using a 3D printing process. The lightweight
robot-spider could explore terrain that is beyond human reach.
June 2012: Robodock is again the pre-eminent art and technology festival
of the Netherlands, with its awe-inspiring kinetic sculptures, pyro-installations,
absurdist acts, robots, live-music and DJs.
The Fenix at Robodock
2010 was highlight of an event full of overwhelming mechanical sculptures,
magical sounds and robots.
Summer 2011 we encountered Theo Jansen and his 'Strandbeests' at the beach of The Hague (Netherlands). Theo is a Dutch artist who builds a kind of wind propelled robots that he calls "a new form of live". We tested a miniature version of 'Animaris Ordis Parvus' on Orange Beach at our Robotics Lab. Watch our video here... And surf to the site of Theo Jansen, strandbeest.com...
AIBO, the robotic pet of Sony. Unfortunately production ceased in 2006. Still we do love the mass-marketed AIBO. See our little movie 'Aibo Dancing' (draft version!) made at Robosquare here...
PARO is a Mental Commitment Robot, shaped as a seal. Unlike industrial robots, "Mental Commitment Robots" are developed to interact with human beings and to make them feel emotional attached to the robots. These robots trigger more subjective considerations, evoking mental impressions such as 'cuteness'. Link here...
PARO (part 2) - Mixed feelings certainly. The video proves more or less the effectiveness of PARO, but we're still not sure if this "Mental Commitment Robot" represents the ultimate solution. The human-machine relation is perhaps too artificial or at least very mechanical and poor. Discussion here
TWENDY-ONE is another 'human symbiotic robot' that can support human
daily activities, particularly the (non-)activities of old people This
robot has been developed by the Waseda University in Tokyo. Link here...
"Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the
21st Century" (Penguin, 2009) is a book of Peter Singer, who
is an American political scientist, well known for his knowledge on
military affairs. Particularly we like Peter's presentation "Military
robots and the future of war".
We also like our other toy bots, particularly 'Robby Robot Face'. Is this robot a man or a machine? Dome Head Robby Robot is a reproduction of the famous Japanese original (like our Robby we used in the experiments presented below; see here...). With his cute human face and sparking neck he appears to be having a good day on an alien planet. We love to wind him up and then like watching his sparkling lights and sounds as he moves his feet and walks ahead. He has an on/off switch at his red and yellow front panel. His two brothers Cone Head and Dome Head share the same body and silver wrench-arms. More on this subject at the Osaka Tin Toy Institute here...
There are many collections around the world. For example the 'Robot Hut'. Link here...
Androidworld.com; A site which is devoted to 'androids', or 'humanoids', thus robots that look like humans. Link here...
Robotcity.org - The mission of Robot City is to move Robots from laboratory to life. To do so, people work on robots and robots work for people at a facility with expansive land and diverse outdoor enterprise...but without the contrivances and limitations of laboratories and research centers that characterized the early decades of robot development. Link here...
RoboThespian is a life-sized humanoid exhibition exhibit, a robot actor whose primary function is theatrical performance. RoboThespian was created to educate, communicate, interact and entertain. Link here...
Dr. Seth Quartey (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; Purdue University, West Lafayette & Universität Hamburg) told us about his Academics Robotics Platform specially designed for universities to display their robotics videos and photos to the industry and public. Displaying your projects at this platform is free of charge. Youll find here robotics projects from top universities such as MIT, CMU, Oxford, ANU, Essex, Reading, Cambridge, and many German, Canadian and Asian Universities. Thanks Seth for your link here...
"All Is Full of Love" is a song by Björk, from her album Homogenic. The video is a nice example of entertainment which alludes to the existence of human like robots - robot ladies actually as the video at YouTube proves here...
The 'Kärcher RC3000' RoboCleaner is one of our favourite robots, because it's a mature and superb product. The RC3000 cleans completely autonomously all standard domestic floor coverings. Side protectors prevent the robot getting stuck under furniture, whilst special sensors reliably prevent the RC3000 from falling down stairs. The Base Station not only re-charges the robot, but also empties the dirt container. As soon as the battery starts running low, or the dirt container is full, the RC3000 returns automatically to the Base Station. July 2009 we made a full and successful inspection of RC3000.
March 2011 we bought the Roomba, an autonomous robotic vacuum cleaner sold by iRobot (329 euro) in stead of the Kärcher RC3000 (1200-1500 euro). According Wikipedia the Roomba under normal operational conditions is able to navigate a living space and its obstacles while vacuuming the floor. The Roomba Robocleaner was introduced in 2002; as of January 2008, iRobot claims that over 2.5 million units have been sold. Several updates and new models have since been released that allow the Roomba to better negotiate obstacles and optimize cleaning. In 2010, Roomba sales went global, and in February 2011, iRobot CEO stated "We have sold more than 6 million home robots worldwide."
RVDB's Robotics Project is an investigation into the use of robots
in the built environment,
particularly within an urban context. This investigation represents
primarily a non-applied research for the sake of intellectual exercise
and fun. It's not funded or whatever and we don't have to serve a
client. It overlaps substantially with another joyful activity, that
is our Maze project. See this link
Lambèr Royakkers, Floortje Daemen & Rinie van Est; Overal robots: automatisering van de liefde tot de dood. Boom/Lemma, 2012.
Peter Singer; Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century. Penguin, 2009.
A classic reference:
the future of Isaac Asimov car parking wouldn't resemble anything
from nowadays automatic parking systems such as developed by Toyota
Motor Corporation. In stead they would look like classic 1950s American
car parks, however served by human-like Robot-Attendants. Moreover,
in the world of Asimov the ambiguity of natural language would causes
fundamental misunderstandings between humans and robots.
by the Sun'
was our very first experiment, exposing ROBBY to natural sunlight. Due
to this light the robot's forms and articulations were brightly visualized.
We still love this experiment that offered us fun and moreover the insight
that the human form analogy is powerful and expressive.
Then the fifth and
final experiment 'Walking Ways' that was
subjected to measurements and analysis of ROBBY's basic quality, namely
the ability to walk. A set of small wheels in the bottom side of each
of ROBBY's feet allows the robot to walk. When the rotation of the axe
within the on board electric motor is mechanically transferred to the
'joints' of both legs it really happens. Yes! ROBBY is walking. As his
legs are moving forwards and backwards the wheels in both feeds start
rolling and ROBBY is walking, and not riding as sometimes has been suggested.
The walking capabilities are primarily linked to the movement of the
propulsed legs and not the wheels as such.
Epiloque - in Broadway, the famous mall of Nakano (Tokyo) we spotted an original of ROBBY (April, 2009). Built in 1950 and now for sale for 150.000 yen. ROBBY was and still is a special robot indeed!
Email us here...
Back to main page of RVDB...
(C) Rob van der Bijl (RVDB's Robotics Lab), Amsterdam NETHERLANDS, May 2008 - January 2019