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Senseless Drawing Robot Should Probably Be Arrested

Kids, don't try what you're about to see at home, because your parents will get seriously upset. Trust me

1 min read
Senseless Drawing Robot Should Probably Be Arrested

I'm a big fan of robots that are purpose-built to do something wonderful and useless, especially when that thing is against the law. Designed by So Kanno and Takahiro Yamaguchi, the "Senseless Drawing Robot" (that's them calling it senseless, not me) combines random programming with even more random motion to spray paint randomness2 along whatever wall you park it next to. One thing's for sure: humans aren't allowed to be doing this.

For such a random mechanism, those patterns appear to have quite a bit of artistry attached to them, but I'm probably just projecting or something. While I'd be happy to unleash this little guy around the house (or the IEEE Spectrum offices, for that matter), for the moment, you'll have to travel to Tokyo (and back in time about a month) to see it in action at Utopinism.

[ Senseless Drawing Robot ] via [ io9 ]

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Robot with threads near a fallen branch

RoMan, the Army Research Laboratory's robotic manipulator, considers the best way to grasp and move a tree branch at the Adelphi Laboratory Center, in Maryland.

Evan Ackerman
LightGreen

This article is part of our special report on AI, “The Great AI Reckoning.

"I should probably not be standing this close," I think to myself, as the robot slowly approaches a large tree branch on the floor in front of me. It's not the size of the branch that makes me nervous—it's that the robot is operating autonomously, and that while I know what it's supposed to do, I'm not entirely sure what it will do. If everything works the way the roboticists at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) in Adelphi, Md., expect, the robot will identify the branch, grasp it, and drag it out of the way. These folks know what they're doing, but I've spent enough time around robots that I take a small step backwards anyway.

The robot, named RoMan, for Robotic Manipulator, is about the size of a large lawn mower, with a tracked base that helps it handle most kinds of terrain. At the front, it has a squat torso equipped with cameras and depth sensors, as well as a pair of arms that were harvested from a prototype disaster-response robot originally developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for a DARPA robotics competition. RoMan's job today is roadway clearing, a multistep task that ARL wants the robot to complete as autonomously as possible. Instead of instructing the robot to grasp specific objects in specific ways and move them to specific places, the operators tell RoMan to "go clear a path." It's then up to the robot to make all the decisions necessary to achieve that objective.

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