Robot Demonstrates Asimov's 1st Law of Robotics


Asimov's 1st Law of Robotics states, "A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm." That 'law' came into play a few nights ago when Matt Bauer was walking down a path in the dark carrying his ROBO-ONE class custom designed and built humanoid robot - Rook's Pawn.

Here's the story, according to Matt:

"Aw man! Well, about two minutes ago - on my way from my shop to our house, I tripped over a large iron flowerpot… hard. With Rook’s Pawn in my hands he dampened a good portion of the fall.

Unfortunately, I was a little too heavy for the little guy and two of his brackets buckled under my weight (his right ankle and hip).

On a good note, the brackets are saved on my CNC computer, so I shouldn’t have too much of a problem making identical replacements."

So, Rook's Pawn sacrificed his own knees to save his master from considerable damage. Pretty cool. Here's what the damage (to the robot, not Matt) looked like:


Matt's robot, which started off life as an off-the-shelf Robonova-1 robot kit, has evolved and morphed over the past year and half to the point that there is very few of the original Hitec parts remaining. 


Awesome - totally awesome. The robot's spec's are -

  • 24 DOF (7/leg, 5/arm)
  • Independent Leg Rotation,
  • Dual Knee Joint,
  • Wrist/elbow Rotation
  • Newly Updated Grips
  • Weight: 2.26kg (5.0lbs)
  • Height (fully erect): 48cm (19”)
  • Height (full squat): 30cm (12”)
  • 28 custom machined aluminum brackets
  • 16 stabilization rods
  • 1 custom aluminum “spine” (vertebrae)
  • 11 custom delrin block brackets
  • 16 custom delrin idler horns (Hitec has yet to release the free hors for the 5990 or 5995 series, so I had to make my own)
  • Acrylic back-lit “Rook’s Pawn” marquee
  • Plastic resin cast head (Monkey skull w/ coyote jaw-bone and fangs)
  • Sensors: Gyro, Accelerometer, IR
  • Communication: Blue SMiRF Bluetooth module
  • Software: MECH Puppeteer ver. 2.8 (Enhanced Demo, Combat, and Soccer Platform)


Matt and Rooks Pawn are going to be showing off their stuff at RoboGames in San Francisco the weekend after next. If you want to see some of the best in hobby level humanoid robotics, and perhaps even meet the two of them in person, then put RoboGames on your schedule.


Related links:

Rooks Pawn Official Website

More background on Rooks Pawn and Bauer Independents


3 thoughts on “Robot Demonstrates Asimov's 1st Law of Robotics

  1. Just curious… is this really Asimov’s laws coming into place, or just the robot being in hi hand as he fell? The robot didn’t actively exercise the law… Just curious as to what people think.

  2. Paul,

    Interesting question. As far as the post goes, it was my attempt at trying to write something interesting and position it to trigger some thought – so in that respect it was successful. !8-D

    At a deeper level, whether the 3 laws have any relevance or not may depend on the concept of conscious thought and action. In this particular case, Rook’s Pawn wasn’t powered up…

  3. Hmm, so in short, it was a demonstration, but not a conscious demonstration of the law. Still, it’s interesting to see. Has anyone attempted to actually program a robot to obey Asimov’s laws at all times?

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