System Design for End-User Robots: Sharing Work Amongst Research Programs

Marc G. Slack

In the last 5 years or so, new perception and control techniques have been developed and demonstrated which allow a to robot perform tasks in natural environments. Unfortunately, most efforts have resulted in one-of-a-kind robots, limited to research laboratories or carefully circumscribed venues. A user who would like to apply robotic technology to a particular real-world problem usually starts from scratch. The problem is that the robotic technology (i.e., the hardware and software) which might apply the user’s domain exists in a diverse array of formats and configurations. For intelligent robotics to become a practical reality, an effort to standardize some aspects of robotic technology must be made. This paper proposes that this technology be thought of in ways which are similar to the standardization of personal computer technology. I envision a "plug and play" system in which a person can buy robotic hardware components from one vendor and intelligent application software from another. A final system would then be constructed by assembling "snap together" hardware and installing the software, without requiring that the user understand the inner workings of the system. This work presents some system requirements (hardware and software) and one implemented design for end-user robots. We conclude that such technology is possible today and necessary for the sharing of ideas as well as the rapid advancement of the field of intelligent robotics.

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