Friday, February 11, 2011

Robot High Heels

We have designed and constructed an amphibious fish robot capable of swimming and crawling. The goal of the project is two-fold: (1) the robot serves as test-bed for our locomotion controllers based on systems of coupled nonlinear oscillators (CPGs) and (2) the robot is used in an interactive exhibition at EPFL, the Forum Decouvertes. The robot is constructed using the same elements as our salamander robot Salamandra robotica.

The control architecture of the robot is constructed around a central pattern generator (CPG) implemented as a system of coupled nonlinear oscillators, which, like its biological counterpart, can produce coordinated patterns of rhythmic activity while being modulated by simple control parameters. Using the CPG model, the robot is capable of performing and switching between a variety of different locomotor behaviors such as swimming forwards, swimming backwards, turning, rolling, moving upwards/downwards, and crawling. These behaviors are triggered and modulated by sensory input provided by light, contact, and water sensors.

I bet there is a secret lab somewhere in France
where scientists are working on robot high heels—
shoes that sense a woman’s body temperature
and the components and proportions of hormones
coursing through her bloodstream and adjust their heel height
accordingly, going low when she’s business-like
and extending a few inches when the woman
is in the frame of mind for having a good time.

Some evening I’ll be playing a robot guitar
that adjusts its own string tension to stay in tune,
and looking out the window into my backyard
I’ll see my robot observatory dome turn
as the telescope skews to take a photograph
of some asteroid that has started acting strange,
and the woman on the other side of the room
looking at a colorful drawing created
by the computer program Aaron will enjoy
the song I’m playing and the moment and she’ll grow
a couple of inches taller. She’ll glance at me
and blush, smile, then look away and say, “Excuse me.”

I’ll politely keep playing and say, “Hey, nothing
to apologize for. This date is working out.”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Gibson’s New Robot Guitar

Robot Observatories

Computers, Language And The Goblin Universe

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