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Showing posts from September, 2017

Rough around the hedges

What's the very definition of beauty?  A grand MirĂ³ painting sat in an art gallery?  A snow-covered mountain range sparkling before your very eyes?  Your favourite Coldplay song sang by a choir of Yetis, perhaps?

The answer is actually none of the above.  It's because the most beautiful spectacle on earth is... a robot moving around smoothly (of course it is!).  Without a care in the world.  Gliding around.  Effortlessly.

It's true: we did have Rosie moving around... but (if we're honest about it) not very elegantly.  We sent her simple instructions like: forward, reverse, left, right, take over the world, and stop.  And guess what?  She did exactly that.  To the letter.  That's why when we told her to turn left, when she was already travelling forwards towards the ice cream stand, she abruptly stopped and caused a traffic pile-up, before veering off, dangerously.  Cue the dramatic police chase.

Not very responsible of her.

What we would actually like is a gradual cha…

Abject, disorientated programming

If we're honest, we've been feeling a little exhausted lately.  It's been a bit too hectic, with all the stuff that Rosie's been up to.  Don't get us wrong.  We want her to be happy, energetic and excitable... but also to be a lot more careful.  You know, not to destroy our house from top to bottom.

But it's also sort of our own fault too.  Rosie is... erm... (how can we be polite about this..?) a little... wide.  After all, let's not kid ourselves.  She is (for now) still just a plastic box from the local supermarket.  Of the cheapest variety.  So while she has one ultrasonic distance sensor attached to her front - being positioned in the middle of her very un-aerodynamic, flat body - its coverage isn't exactly great.  In fact, we've concluded: it's actually terrible.  And that's why we think she has table legs for breakfast, or wrestles gnomes in garden centres, or chooses to play tag with the toilet brush (yuck!).  All very silly robot p…

Hello supervision, goodbye supervision

The time has finally come, to let our precious Rosie go.  Wish her luck (yes, she'll really need it).  Press the big red button.  And watch her destroy / navigate (delete as appropriate) the terrain*.  All on her own.  Without your help.  Well, sort of.

*Somewhat scientific term... for your lounge

You see, cool robots are never meant to be controlled by us clumsy humans.  If they want to be clumsy, they can be clumsy on their own.  That way we can deny all responsibility when they crash into the neighbour's car.  Or, less importantly, take over the world.

And by the way, Autonomous stuff seems to be in fashion these days.  Self-driving cars are just around the corner (maybe quite literally).  Very clever computers also beat humans at chess, apparently.  After all, if robots only do what we tell them to do, they are going to need us.  They're going to be just like us.  Oh no.  We want them to work alongside us, to do things that we simply can't be bothered to do.  Like …

A web of Pies

Have you given this a proper thought?  How will your Grandma - Nancy - move Rosie around the house to transport her dentures.  Just like we've been doing, of course, using a computer with a SSHclient, logging onto Linux (Raspbian OS) remotely, and running Python commands from the Linux shell.  Easy-peasy.  Why would you even ask that?

'What?!' you hear her shout.  'I'll never do that,' she adds.  'Me and my friends play online bingo using Firefox on our nursing home computers.  I use Skype on my Android tablet to talk to grandchildren that I never knew I had.  Didn't you know?  It's all about HTTPand web-based services these days?  I want to be able to get my dentures, anywhere, anytime, from any device... with a few taps of the screen.  I demand Rosie-as-a-Service!'

Deep down, you know she's right.  Nancy, your irritating littler brother, your friends - they are never going to be able to play with Rosie if she stays like this.  Besides, we…