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Next Stop RoboWar

Next Stop RoboWar

By Sarah Gillham

It’s the moment we have all been waiting for. The time has come for the mere civilian to stand up and be counted. The opportunity has arisen for you and I to take the next step towards what can only ultimately become world domination. And all from the comforts of our own homes!

But how can this be possible I hear you ask. It’s easy; simply create your own remote controlled robot using Qwerk and TeRK and the rest is up to you! Still confused? Then read on......

Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University, Pennsylvania have developed an exciting DIY robot. No physics or engineering degrees needed! Yes it seems that ‘normal’ people can also become part of this latest robo craze (which, in my opinion, involves a subtle but sinister hidden agenda).

All that is needed is a piece of hardware and a ‘recipe’- much like making a cake, both of which are components of the Telepresence Robot Kit (TeRK - see I wasn’t making it up).

The kit has been developed by Illah Nourbakhsh, Associate Professor of Robotics and his fellow members of the Community Robotics, Education and Technology Empowerment (CREATE) lab. Each kit is sold incomplete in order to maintain individuality between robots. The robot can only be finished using easily available parts from hardware or hobbyist outlets depending on which robot style takes your fancy and how you wish to customise it. This makes the robots more accessible and affordable anyone interested in the world domination wishes to remain anonymous.

This TeRK robot would not be complete, however, without Qwerk, a controller that is able to combine any computer with the electronics and software used to control the robot’s various devices such as motors, camera’s or whatever has been added. The controller also has a wireless connection so that the robot’s actions can be controlled from afar.

Nourbakhsh explains, "The Internet connection means the robots are much more global. Not only can the robot be operated remotely at any location with a wireless Internet connection, but it can also send photos or video, respond to RSS feeds, or access the Internet to find information. That combination opens a wide range of possibilities. “We’re hoping people notice that the sky’s the limit,” he added, before failing to follow up with a demonic laugh.

If global subservience is not on your agenda, TeRK recipes are also provided for more conservative robots that can be fitted with video cameras so you can guard your house or spy on the neighbours. On the other hand, if you fancy something more cute and cuddly, whilst simultaneously desiring to scare children, a formula to control stuffed teddy bears is also currently under development.

Sadly for those of you now hatching a cunning plan to take over the world, you may be out of luck. Efforts to create a powerful yet twisted robot army have already been put in to motion by some scientists at the University of Abertay, Scotland. The scientists have created a robot ‘village’ inside which they have placed 60 mini ‘bots’ split in to two groups. The ‘bots’ will be programmed to learn from and imitate each other performing different tasks. Through this the scientists hope to learn more about the emerging of cultures in societies. Gradually the robots conditions will be changed to see how they adapt.

If you are worried that this sounds more like a robot Nazi camp than anything else, feel free to train your robots for battle. Their help could be essential to our survival!

More from the world of robots:


- News - Human rights for robots
- Strange - Driverless cars take to the road
- News - Mind control for metal men
- Video - Robo-insects take to the skies
Image: Rodolfo Clix


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24 Jul 2009
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