Human-robot interfaces for interacting with hundreds of autonomous robots must be very different from single-robot interfaces. The central design challenge is developing techniques to maintain, program, and interact with the robots without having to handle them individually. This requires robots that can support hands-free operation, which drives many other aspects of the design. This paper presents the design philosophy and practical experience with human-robot interfaces to develop, debug, and evaluate distributed algorithms on the 112-robot iRobot Swarm. These human-robot interaction (HRI) techniques fall into three categories: a physical infrastructure to support hands-free operation, utility software for centralized development and debugging, and carefully designed lights, sounds and movement that allow the user to interpret the inner workings of groups of robots without having to look away or use special equipment. The end result is a useable Swarm, with develop-run-debug cycle times approaching that of a simulation.
I was recently consulting for an organisation that was looking to implement a framework to govern the implementation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies. Like many organisations in their sector, they had been running various'lab' experiments for some time, and had seen positive results; but there was still something holding them back from wholesale investment. A major consulting firm had encouraged them to'accelerate' their innovation by using a framework to govern the roll-out. I asked them where they felt it needed more focus, and they responded saying that it felt somewhat vanilla, a re-hashing of any-old IT project management best practice. "Surely there is something different about AI", they asked?
For the first 54 years of his life, Dennis DeGray was an active guy. In 2007 he was living in Pacific Grove, Calif., not far from the ocean and working at a beachside restaurant. Then, while taking out the trash one rainy night, he slipped, fell, and hit his chin on the pavement, snapping his neck between the second and third vertebrae. DeGray was instantly rendered, as he puts it, "completely nonfunctional from the collarbone south." He's since depended on caregivers to feed, clothe, and clean him and meet most any other need.
Zooids is an open-source open-hardware platform for developing tabletop Swarm User Interfaces, a new class of human-computer interfaces comprised of many autonomous robots that handle both display and interaction. The platform consists of a collection of custom-designed wheeled micro robots, a radio base-station, a highspeed DLP structured light projector for optical tracking, and a software framework for application development and control.