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Robotics: New Ideas for the iRobot Create

Robotic Pets With Personality

This is an idea I've had for a while; I just wanted to add it because I think I have a nifty slant on the virtual pet. Years ago I remember reading about some neat experiments about what exactly defines "life" and "personality." Some simple robots were used with very simple programming: When their battery was very low, they'd "eat" by going to a recharge station. When their battery was full, they'd "play" by running around and exploring, or interacting with other robots if they could find them. When their battery was depleted to 50%, they'd relax by hiding under things like the couch until their battery was low enough that they'd come out to recharge. The experiment resulted in robots that exhibited different personalities: some tended to be more playful than others, and some tended to be brooders that spent more time under the couch.

I think having virtual pets with personalities like this would be something that would really catch on with.

Image copyright Lucasfilm

The IParty Robot

There are a number of other worthwhile ideas posted on the message boards. For instance, consider the iParty robot: complete with mobile speakers, an iPod dock and a lightshow; this cybernetic party fiend would be a welcome addition to any gathering. What if it could take song requests and even carry a drink tray? R2D2 did it in "The Empire Strikes Back," so it must be viable. Yes, my iParty accepts tips.

Robotic Picasso

Another unique idea was to make an artist robot. How about attaching a marker or paintbrush to the iRobot Create and letting it go? Perhaps it could be programmed to randomly paint patterns, recreate existing works of art or even recreate digital photographs in real paint? I can seriously imagine this type of thing becoming a reality in the future.

Now Here's A Good Idea

How about a robotic pooper-scooper that follows your dog and cleans up the unpleasant messes for you? Yeah, I could see myself investing in one of these for the yard or walks. Making robots do our unpleasant tasks is probably the most commercially viable way for them to become commonplace: just look at the Roomba, which takes away our vacuuming responsibilities.

In the future, maybe a robot will not only clean up after our pets, but walk them for exercise, too. Then again, maybe a Robotic Pet instead of a dog gets rid of the root problem...

Editor's Opinion

The iRobot Create Challenge looks like it's proceeding at full throttle and there's certainly no lack of creativity. Now we can look forward to the final leg of the competition and see what was accomplished and how refined the resulting robot performances will be. Stay tuned to see what people can produce with robotics with a little incentive and a lot of creativity.