Robosapien PC Control Functional Test
Okay, here's the challenge:
"Without using any of the compound functions like 'pickup' or 'toss', have your Robosapien lean over and pickup something in front of him, raise it over his head, and then toss it away."
While it sounds simple enough, it turns out to be maddingly difficult to do just using the standard Robosapien remote control. If you're really into video games, and can pound a X-Box controller into submission - i.e. if you are blessed with lightening fast reflexes, it might be a piece of cake. But, since I tend to move at the speed of a turtle and have marginal manual dexterity, trying to get my Robosapien to make those moves was an exercise in terminal frustration.
So, I thought this would be an excellent first test for the new PC based Robo-in-Motion controller (see related posts). It turns out that the controller passed the test with flying colors. It did much better than I had initially expected. It only took a few minutes of setup to put together the command sequence, and a few more minutes to make some minor adjustments, and then the controller and my Robosapien were picking up and tossing his little bucket like clockwork. Here's what it looked like-
Left: Initial resting position with the bucket just in front and to the right of his foot.
Right: He raises his left arm in the air.
Left: He straightens his right arm opening his hand.
Right: He bends over to the right to the point that his left foot is actually off the floor slightly.
Left: He rotates his right arm to grab the bucket.
Right: He lifts the bucket in front of him.
Left: He raises it over his head.
Right: And tosses it away.
Here's a video of the whole test: Download Robosapien_pickup.wmv (750.2K)
Mark Tilden said when the Robosapien first hit the market:
"Most of the secret I/R codes are designed so that a controlling computer can cause him to dovetail commands very quickly (up to 30 baud) and even be programmed at very high rates from a nearby I/R port. Some people will already have noticed that it is possible to move the robot by the remote faster than he can move himself. Taken to the limit, the robot can be a very responsive "horse" to any uP controller or I/R equipped PDA or laptop."
I wondered about that when I first read it. Was it just Mark's ego, or overblown marketing hype? Now that the Robo-in-Motion controller is fully functional, I'm finding that Mark's comments were right on target. It is definitely possible to feed the Robosapien command streams under PC control that are much faster than what you could with the hand held remote. Robosapien's movements are faster, smoother, and with very little hesitation.
More importantly, the PC control makes it easy to implement totally new compound movements that are almost perfectly repeatable, time after time - even if you are all thumbs like me. It expands the Robosapien experience tremendously, and puts a ton of fun back into playing with him.