AI in Action: Robotics

SQUEE: The Robot Squirrel

Squee used two light sensors and two contact switches to hunt for ”nuts” (actually, tennis balls) and drag them to its nest. Squee was described as “75% reliable,” but it worked well only in a very dark room.

Artificial Intelligence in Action: Robotics

For practical tasks, “thinking” is paired with “doing.” So robots and Artificial Intelligence are natural partners in attempts to create “autonomous agents” that can function in the real world. AI provides the thinking and planning; the robot provides sensory data and action.

Building effective robots requires expertise in multiple disciplines: mechanics, electronics, mathematics, software engineering…and of course, the algorithms and techniques of AI.

Robot squirrel hunts his own food

Edmund Berkeley co-founded the Association for Computing Machinery in 1947 and wrote a popular 1949 book, Giant Brains, or Machines That Think.

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The Beast

This non-computerized robot used transistorized circuitry to process input from light-sensitive photocells. When low on power, it searched for black wall outlets to recharge from.

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George Devol robot arm patent

This patent, one of 40 issued to George Devol, focused on how robot arms were programmed to move. He combined both end-point specification and continuous control.

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The Beast at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab

The “Model II” Beast included video imaging devices for navigation, as well as sonar and touch sensors.

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Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot cover by John Berkey

Perhaps in reaction to earlier dangerous fictional robots, Asimov’s creations must obey the “Three Laws of Robotics” to assure they are no threat to humans or each other.

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Grey Walter with Elsie

A neurophysiologist, Walter built wheeled automatons in order to experiment with goal-seeking behavior. Elsie used photoelectric cells to seek moderate light while avoiding both strong light and darkness—which made it peculiarly attracted to women’s stockings.

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