Typically when we think about a robot we automatically assume that it is self contained to some extent. It has some means of locomotion - wheels, legs, or tracks, a source of power, some sensors, and a brain to control it all. But what about robots where the intelligence isn't 'on-board'? Are they still 'robots'? If the answer is no, then how would you classify them?
Suppose that the 'brain' - the control intelligence, and the sensors reside somewhere else? A good example might be the tiny Citizen Eco-Be soccer playing robots. We had the opportunity to watch them up close, take a look at their internal design, and chat with some of the developers at CEATEC 2007 here at Makuhari Messe in Chiba, Japan last week.
The soccer field that Eco-Be robots play on is basically a large LCD type display laid horizontally so that the field with its lines and goals, time display, markings showing the robot positions and orientation, and even the soccer ball itself, are displayed very similar to a video game.
The robots are tiny - actually much smaller than our mental image from seeing them online.
The Eco-Be architecture is very simple and straightforward. A few frame members, a couple motor/wheel assemblies, a battery and battery cover, and a small electronics board that serves as an interface to outboard computers. There are no on-board sensors, and the robot depends entirely on external commands to do anything.
When all is said and done, there are only 22 parts and assemblies for the entire robot.
So, is it a 'robot', or just a remote peripheral kind of like the Borg? Let us know what you think.