Rog-a-matic sent us a link to a Daily
Mail article on a "robot" named Joules that rides a bicycle. Joules
is actually a humanoid-robot-shaped bicycle motor that can be mounted on
the rear seat of a tandem two-seat bicycle, allowing the human occupant
on the front seat to get away with just steering. Obviously you could
just get a powered bicycle but this is intended more as a robot art
project than a practical device. And, as you can see in the above video,
it does look pretty cool. Anyone who has built robots can appreciate the
work that went into this. Carl, the builder, was challenged by his son, a
former pro bicycle racer, to build an electric tandem powered by
actually pumping the pedals rather than a direct electric drive. If
you're interested in the technical details, check out the builder's
original post on the Endless-Sphere Electric Vehicle
It occurs to me that the robot industry is in need of a taxonomy to classify robots. This kind of robot is an anthropomorphic assembly of motors, belts, and cranks. But simply because of the way its shaped and positioned in a context typically associated with humans, it evokes an emotional response by the observer and nobody has a problem calling it a "robot."
Matt Denton, the designer and builder of icHexapod, emphasizes the illusion of intelligence with his robot where the hexapod's head tracks an observer's face. Inverse kinematics give it a fluid and biological motion that contributes to the illusion that the robot is alive.
Neither of these systems is intelligent but they interact sufficiently in the human environment that they are less likely to be turned off without the operator feeling something that resembles guilt. It just seems to me that this robot fits in a different class (evolutionary tree?) than say, .. industrial robots.
Thanks for another great post Steve. I really need to resume my visits to DPRG. You've definitely one of the best (if not THE best) robotics blogs on the web.