AI Expert Newsletter
AI - The art and science of making computers do interesting
things that are not in their nature.
Welcome to the December AI Expert. In this issue, I look at programming
the Sony Aibo robot dog, the World Wide Mind, and (with some help
from Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams),
Ronald Reagan. But first, some truly remarkable neural network news
from the University of Florida. It's probably not yet feasible
to do this at home, but it would be great to see the technology
taken up by private experimenters.
Thus begins a feature
in Wired's on this month's lead news. As reported there,
and in the University
of Florida News for October 21, Thomas
DeMarse, a professor of biomedical engineering at Florida, has
cultured a collection of 25,000 rat neurons on an electrode array,
and then trained them to fly a simulated F-22 fighter jet.
When DeMarse first put the neurons in the culture dish, they looked
like little more than grains of sand sprinkled in water. However,
individual neurons soon begin to extend microscopic lines toward
each other and make synaptic connections:
You see one extend a process, pull it back, extend it
out - and it may do that a couple of times, just sampling who’s
next to it, until over time the connectivity starts to establish
The electrode array on which the neurons are growing is connected
to a desktop PC running the fighter simulator. This sends them information
about flight conditions: whether the plane is flying straight and
level or is tilted to the left or to the right. The electrodes pick
up the neurons' responses and send them back to the simulator, thus
controlling the fighter:
Initially when we hook up this brain to a flight simulator,
it doesn’t know how to control the aircraft. So you hook it up and
the aircraft simply drifts randomly. And as the data comes in, it
slowly modifies the (neural) network so over time, the network gradually
learns to fly the aircraft.
It's always risky to accept popular press accounts of research,
and the peer-reviewed paper on this work has apparently not yet
been published. However, some information can be found. A brief
account of the hardware on the university site tells us that
the electrode array, supplied by Multi
Channel Systems, consists of 60 electrodes, each capable of
both recording and stimulating neural activity. The electrodes,
30 microns wide, were spaced 200 microns apart in an 8-by-8 grid.
This kind of array was not developed solely for probing neural activation:
and Medical Sciences Institute page of the University of Tübingen
indicates their use on heart and retinal cells. Pharmacology is
one application, using the electrodes to examine how drugs affect
the patterns of activity in the tissue.
How can the neurons know to make signals the fighter simulator
can understand? If the setup is similar to that in a paper on previous
Neurally Controlled Animat: Biological Brains Acting with Simulated
Bodies, then there is cooperation between the computer and
the network. The paper describes how the neurons - derived from
18-day old rat embryos - were cultured, forming after a few days
a complex network. After one month, this had become relatively stable
in its activity. Via the electrodes, the neurons were connected
to a simulated animal living within a room with four walls and a
few internal barriers. The computer analysed neural activity recorded
by the electrodes into sequences of action-potential spikes. These
spike trains were then passed through a clustering algorithm to
detect frequently-occurring spike patterns. Some of these patterns
were allocated arbitrarily to motion commands: forward, back, and
so on. When the simulated animal received sensory input, e.g. by
hitting a wall, this was fed back to the electrodes and hence to
the neurons, thus creating a continuously running cells-to-computer-to-cells
The aim of this research is not to replace US Air Force pilots
by dishfuls of rat cortical cells, but to help understand signals
and coding in the nervous system. That said, the research is exciting
purely for its technological potential. Most computing technology
eventually moves out of the lab to the hackers, and if it can be
done without hurting animals (one can envisage a neural-culture
supply house, perhaps...) I would love to see this taken up and
developed by home hobbyists.
- Wired's write-up. See www.napa.ufl.edu/2004news/braindish.htm
for the original University of Florida news item.
- Home page for Thomas DeMarse.
- Summary of how the multi-channel arrays were used, with a photograph.
- Home page for Multi Channel Systems.
- Application of microelectrode array (MEA) technology in pharmaceutical
biotechnology, University of Tübingen summary.
- Micropatterned Neural Nets on Different Solid Surfaces,
poster summary from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research.
- The Neurally Controlled Animat: Biological Brains Acting with
Simulated Bodies. This is a readable paper by DeMarse and colleagues
on the earlier experiment in which neurons were used to control
a simulated animal in its virtual world. It describes how signals
from the neurons were interpreted by the software.
- Home page for Steve Potter, one of DeMarse's collaborators. There
are some interesting links on consciousness, artificial life, self-organising
systems and other topics.
- Posting (which introduced me to the word "hybrot") about this
work from the Neurodude list, "at the intersection of neuroscience
and AI". This list seems to carry interesting news from time to
- Copious Slashdot postings on the research.
The World Wide Mind is a project
that aims to help people collaborate on AI by sharing components
over the Web. As the originators say on their site,
This work proposes that the construction of advanced
artificial minds may be too difficult for any single laboratory
to complete. At the moment, no easy system exists whereby a working
mind can be made from the components of two or more laboratories.
This system aims to change that, and accelerate the growth of Artificial
Intelligence, once the requirement that a single laboratory understand
the entire system is removed.
This is something that looks valuable - and fun - for teaching AI,
so let me say a bit about the implementation.
The idea is that collaborators provide either a mind (or part
of a mind) or a world in which the mind can operate. Such a component
is called a "service". Services use standard HTTP protocol: in other
words, they run on Web servers, and can be implemented using CGI,
servlets, and other standard authoring techniques.
To ensure smooth collaboration, services must follow a standard
protocol. Each service can be asked to perform various actions and
send back various types of information. As an example, to create
a world, one sends its server a
newrun message. The
world-simulator on the server is duty-bound by the protocol to understand
this message and to reply by creating a new instance of the world
and sending back an ID for it.
A world must also understand the
which asks it to return its current state, and the
message, which tells it to perform a given action - such as moving
a block in a blocks world - and update its state accordingly. These
ideas will be familiar to anyone who has built simulated environments
for AIs. There are various other messages, all described in the
documentation linked at the end of this article.
Not surprisingly, given their autonomy, minds respond to a different
set of messages. It's still necessary to create an instance before
use, but one then sends it a
getaction message, together
with the ID for a world. This instructs it to "think" about what
it must do next. The action it returns can then be fed back to its
world by a
In order that a user can access the same instance of a mind or
world in each transaction, its author preserve state on the server
across transactions. This involves session-handling, which all Web
authoring systems now provide.
To accomodate arbitrarily complicated messages and replies, the
World Wide Mind authors have defined an XML-based language called
SOML, or "Society Of Mind Markup Language". This name is taken from
Marvin Minsky's book The Society of Mind, which envisages
human minds as a society of collaborating agents. For those who
don't know XML, there's no mystery to it: it's just a way to encode
feature-attribute tree structures in a standard text-based (and
highly verbose) syntax. Any programming language these days will
have tools for parsing XML. The World Wide mind site includes a
definition of SOML. Note incidentally that although SOML is standardised,
the way worlds and minds convey their states and actions isn't,
as these are carried as data within the XML. One world might describe
itself using Prolog predicates, while another sends back vectors
of object colour-location-size triples.
World Wide Mind had the objective of making it easy to build AIs
out of shared components, and so a mind can call upon any number
of subminds, wherever they are in the world. To do so, it just uses
SOML and messages as above, instantiating a submind and passing
it a request for action.
Any system that uses the Web for its internal messaging is never
going to push the envelope of speed - the phrase "vaster than continents
and more slow" comes to mind. However, it does look extremely useful
for teaching, enabling teachers and students to share components
and build upon one another's work. It could also inspire some interesting
competitions, so why not have a go for yourself? The site comes
with two example worlds. One was built by ALifer Toby Tyrrell as
part of his University of Edinburgh research into action-selection
mechanisms, and models a complex environment inhabited by a creature
with multiple conflicting goals. The other is a simple blocks world
containing a robot arm and a few blocks it can move around, and
uses Prolog as a state-description language. If you're giving an
AI course and want to give your students something to get them started
quickly, these would be good starting points.
http://w2mind.org/ - Home page
for the World Wide Mind project.
- The documentation, SOML and message protocols included, and the
example worlds, are all linked from this page, rather than w2mind.org.
It occurred to me, watching the Mondale/Reagan debates
on television, that, on one side at least, we were watching 2K man
in action. Ol' Ronnie is not, let us be honest, about to surprise
the world by coming up with, for instance, a Unified Field Theory.
If he were to play chess against a large block of wood, then I for
one would not know where to put my money. It also occurred to me
that the people responsible for briefing Reagan for these confrontations
have therefore to give him the bare minimum number of facts that
he could get hold of, and the maximum number of ways in which he
could get hold of them. Added to that he must have a lot of long
stop responses with which to field questions which he did not know
the answer to or simply did not understand. Which is exactly the
way in which you set about writing a program to mimic conversation.
This quote comes from an article in the British humorous weekly
Punch, published sometime in the early '80s. To explain it,
I should point out that Adams, author of the Hitch Hiker's Guide
to the Galaxy, was an unusually clear thinker, as the following
excerpt from The Restaurant at the end of the Universe illustrates.
Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect have leapt into a matter transporter
to escape certain death, and have been teleported to a space ark
which they will later discover to be packed with cryogenically frozen
telephone-sanitisers and advertising executives. In this scene,
just after they arrive, they find themselves captured by the ark's
Number Two officer and dragged to see its Captain:
It does seem to me that Adams has a point. And his clear thinking
makes much sense when applied to Reagan, too.
Number Two's eyes narrowed and became what are known in the
Shooting and Killing People trade as cold slits, the idea presumably
being to give your opponent the impression that you have lost
your glasses or are having difficulty keeping awake. Why this
is frightening is an, as yet, unresolved problem.
He advanced on the Captain, his (Number Two's) mouth a thin
hard line. Again, tricky to know why this is understood as fighting
behaviour. If, while wandering through the jungle of Traal, you
were to come across the fabled Ravenous Bugblatter Beast, you
would have reason to be grateful if its mouth was a thin hard
line rather than, as it usually is, a gaping mass of slavering
Adams was a keen observer of computing and the software industry.
In Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, he imagines an
AI company, WayForward Technologies, who have invented a novel decision-support
system. Instead of deciding for you which actions are best for your
business, it asks which decision you would like to reach, and then
outputs an impregnable argument with which to justify it to your
critics. Now there's an interesting research project.
In the story, WayForward have sold their program to the Pentagon,
who want to generate arguments justifying Star Wars (the missile
defence, not the film). This becomes a bit worrying for one of the
employees, who after reverse-engineering recent US policy statements,
notices that while the US Navy is clearly using version 2.00, the
arguments expressed by the Air Force are still generated by the
algorithms from beta-test version 1.5. This notwithstanding, the
Pentagon sale is just starting to make WayForward:
the only British software company that could be mentioned
in the same sentence as such major U.S. companies as Microsoft or
Lotus. The sentence would probably run along the lines of "WayForward
Technologies, unlike such major U.S. companies as Microsoft or Lotus...",
but it was a start.
In all, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency is a fun read
- amongst its cast is a time-travelling Cambridge don who uses his
time machine to go back and watch TV programs because he can't cope
with his video-recorder's user-interface - and, 20 years later, it
is interesting to relive the personal computer craze of the times.
Returning to Reagan, the Punch quote with which I started
was inspired when Adams combined his observations of the software
industry - and perhaps of US politics - with an interest in interactive
fiction, itself inspired when he began writing a text-adventure
version of Hitch Hiker's. Adams explains, in a quote
from Neil Gaiman's biography of him Don't Panic, that as
he watched Reagan and Mondale:
I thought, 'This is exactly the way you program a computer to
appear to be taking part in a conversation.' So, with a friend
in New York, I was going to do a program to emulate Reagan, so
you could sit down and talk to a computer and it would respond
as Reagan would. And then we could do a Thatcher one, and after
a while you could do all the world leaders, and get all the various
modules to talk to each other. [World Wide Mind, anyone?]
After that we were going to do a program called God,
and program all God's attributes into it, and you'd have all the
different denominations of God on it ... you know, a Methodist
God, a Jewish God, and so on... I wanted to be the first person
to have computer software burned in the Bible Belt, which I felt
was a rite of passage that any young medium had to pass through.
However, with the recession in the American computer industry,
all that came to nothing, largely because the people who wanted
to do it with me discovered they didn't have cars or money or
Adams did not produce a Reagan game, and there is not, as far
as I know, a Reagan simulator on the market. But believe it or not,
there was once a Barry Goldwater simulator. In her Artificial
Intelligence and Natural Man, still tbe best general book on
pre-1980s AI, Margaret Boden describes Abelson's Ideology Machine,
a program designed to model how mental belief structures determine
one's reply to questions such as "If the Communists attack Thailand,
what will happen?" (Abelson was working bang in the middle of the
Abelson chose Goldwater because of his exceptionally clearcut
and unchanging (rigid...?) ideology. To the Thailand question, Ideology
Machine would apparently reply:
If Communists attack Thailand, Communists take over unprepared
nations unless Thailand ask-aid-from United States and United-States
As Boden remarks, this answer appears reasonable enough as words to
be put into the mouth of Goldwater, while appropriately inappropriate
if suggested as coming from, for example, Tito. The point is that
such a model must explain differences, i.e. what it is about Goldwater's
conceptual structures that would cause him to answer differently from
Tito. This it did by analysing the question to give a starting node
in the belief-graph verbalised below, and then following the links
round to generate its answer:
The Communists want to dominate the world and are continually
using Communist schemes (Branch 5) to bring this about; these schemes
when successful bring Communist victories (Branch 6) which will
eventually fulfil their ultimate purpose; if on the other hand the
Free World really uses its power (Branch 4), then Communist schemes
will surely fail (Branch 7), and thus their ultimate purpose will
be thwarted. However, the misguided policies of liberal dupes (Branch
2) result in inhibition of full use of Free World power (Branch
3); therefore it is necessary to enlighten all good Americans with
the facts so that they may expose and overturn these misguided liberal
policies (Branch 1).
Any relation to the policies of any current leader is entirely coincidental.
For further reading, I recommend Boden's section on Abelson. The
political science link below surveys various projects, and it's
interesting too to follow up later references to Abelson and Roger
Schank, with whom Abelson began a long collaboration on modelling
- Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy Infocom Adventure, including
a Java applet that you can play online. It is claimed that this
may be the only text-adventure that lies to its players!
- AI Expert Newsletter for June 2004 contains Dennis Merritt's nice
explanation of interactive fiction, with numerous links.
- A survey covering the Ideology Machine and other AI applications
to political science, written by Gavan Duffy and Seth Tucker, Syracuse
University Department of Political Science.
When Sony brought out Aibo in 1999, they sold
3,000 in a mere 20 minutes over the Internet. Since then, Aibo
has already gone through five versions, the latest being the
wireless-enabled ERS-7. In this feature, I recount what I disovered
about how to program Aibo, and his uses in teaching.
If you're interested in programming an Aibo, the first step is
to buy one - or to decide whether you can afford to, since Aibo
is not cheap. Looking for online shops so I could check prices,
I found a confusing tangle of URLs - sony.com, sony.net, sonystyle.com,
aibo-europe.com, shop.sonystyle-europe.com. According to the sony.net
shop, Aibo sells at £1,399 in the UK, $1,899 in the US,
and 1,999€ in the Eurozone. (This may not be the best Sony
site, since the Europe page lacks online shops for Greece and other
countries, while the French will not be pleased to see that one
of their links contains a dud country code, causing their page to
appear in German.) Teachers and researchers should look out for
educational discounts, and it's also worth checking for reconditioned
Let me add that the price is actually excellent value when you
consider the development and engineering that has gone into Aibo.
He has become deservedly popular for teaching robotics, at school
as well as in university.
Sony have numerous descriptions of Aibo scattered over their sites
- there's a nice little tour via the Sonystyle "Product Tour" link
on their Aibo
learning centre page at www.sonystyle.com. I'd give the URL
in my links list below, but it's far too big to fit on a line, being
well over 100 characters long.
More information on Aibo's hardware can be gleaned from notes
written by various universities for their robotics courses. According
to the University
of Pittsburgh, the ERS-7 contains:
- 320 line CCD camera with color segmentation hardware.
- 2 IR distance sensors.
- Position encoders for all joints' actuator motors.
- Joint actuation motors, as follows:
- Tail: left/right;
- Neck: up/down;
- Head: left/right and up/down;
- High shoulder, 2 per leg: in/out and forward/backward;
- Knee: bend position;
- Ankle: bend position.
- Touch-sensor switches: 1 in the head (1), 3 in the back, and
in the chin.
- Accelerometer for detecting falls and pick-ups.
- Switch sensors on each paw pad.
- Stereo microphone.
- Audio channel.
- Wireless network channel.
- Slot for removable memory stick.
The software is harder to find out about. Aibo's joints give it
a good number of degrees of freedom, and its native software is
geared towards using this for lifelike "pet emulation", as the list
of primitive actions demonstrates:
- Play Alone - things Aibo does by himself
- Play with Human - things Aibo does with you
- Play with Robot - things Aibo does with other Aibos
- Play with Object - things Aibo does with things (usually pink
- Show emotions / moods (joy, fear, disgust, ...)
- Show feelings (bored, embarrased, dislike, ...)
- Physiological reactions (cold, hot, itchy, peeing, ...)
- Requests (play with me)
- Reflexes (react to noise or surprise)
- Show Intentions (just say no)
- Offensive (attack, provoke, escape)
- Guard / Defensive (attack, cover, threaten)
- Contact - Aibo raises paw to touch something (in different locations)
- Tactile - Reactions to being touched (hate it, pressed, tickled)
- Special case position changes (advanced)
- Ball search and tracking (advanced)
As AI-ers, we want to know what Aibo can do with his senses. Sony
say the ERS-7 recognises its owner's face, as well as the blocky
black-and-white pattern on the marker pole of its recharging station.
Aibo ships with two toys - a ball and a bone, the "Aibone" [oh dear]
- and the recognition software apparently knows about these. That
they're both coloured a lurid and unlikely pink suggests that Aibo's
object-recognition abilities are not overly discriminating. This
is backed up by a disappointed review from "etienne"
of Brussels on the Home Robot News and Reviews site.
Having said that, Sony have still packed a huge amount into Aibo.
If you want to try some elementary programming, an easy way to
begin is the YART graphical editor written by AiboPet.
He, incidentally, is one of Aibo's most notorious hackers, having
become famous when Sony
invoked the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act against him
for cracking Aibo's protection and reverse-engineering its software.
Returning to YART, the tool lets you define responses that Aibo
must execute when he detects certain conditions. For example, you
can program Aibo to sit alone and groom himself when the touch sensor
in his head is pressed for a long time, or even to dance. AiboPet's
site contains a wealth of information on this.
YART works by expanding its user's condition-response pairs into
R-CODE, Sony's BASIC-like scripting language. R-CODE is fine for
extending Aibo's repertoire of pet-like behaviours, but it is limited
and can't access all of his hardware, so I'll just mention it in
passing. Sony implicitly admits this in that while they permit commercial
use of their R-CODE development kit, they don't for OPEN-R, which
I'll get onto next.
Lower-level than R-CODE, OPEN-R gives you more power. It implements
an object-oriented interface based on C++, which allows you to control
everything from the gain values of Aibo's actuators to getting data
from his camera and communication via his LAN. One very important
topic here is parallelism. The OPEN-R programming model views Aibo
as a collection of concurrently executing OPEN-R objects (not the
same as C++ objects, note) which communicate by message passing.
You can't use OPEN-R unless you thoroughly understand this. The
best help I've found is a OPEN-R
tutorial by Francois Serra and Jean-Christophe Baillie from
ENSTA. As they say in their introduction, Sony's official Web-based
documentation is incomplete, and some examples, including an often-cited
ball tracker, are not at all easy to understand. Because of this,
they wrote this tutorial as a service to the research community.
It looks like essential reading for anybody beginning OPEN-R.
OPEN-R is powerful, but for serious AI, I'd recommend Tekkotsu,
and not merely because it is free and open-source. Tekkotsu is a
rapid-application development framework developed at Carnegie Mellon
University. Amongst the reasons for recommending it is that it removes
some of the low-level tedium of robot programming, as well as the
complications of OPEN-R parallelism. Amongst other things, it centralises
sensory processing in one place, preventing code duplication, and
making it possible for programmers to use an event-driven style
- familiar to most C++ and Java users - for handling perceptions.
This is nice: as an example, the Tekkotsu tutorial
shows events being used, in less than a page of C++, to detect when
Aibo's pink ball passes into or out of his field of vision.
Computer scientists rightly attach importance to functional and
logic programming languages, because of their clean semantics. There's
been a lot of research on such languages applied to various kinds
of parallel systems, so I was interested to see whether they'd been
tried for Aibo. Disappointingly, a search turned up very little.
Jelle Herold at the University of Utrecht has slides
describing a reimplementation of Utrecht's 3APL
cognitive agent language for Aibo. Another collection
of pages on this work mentions that SWI-Prolog
has been ported to Aibo, with the help of SWI's author Jan Wielemaker.
A download is available; it would be a good start for anyone interested
in logic programming and Aibo.
As far as functional languages go, Ian Horswill of Northwestern
University describes a simple functional language called GRL,
based on Lisp. This allows robot behaviours to be written and composed
in a modular fashion, and has apparently been tried on prototypes
Tekkotsu itself is an example of software developed for university
work, and it has been used in numerous courses. Just as one example
of a non-Tekkotsu course, I have linked at the end to a
course at the University of New Orleans, which involved a mapping
and path-planning project, using an interface between Java/R-CODE
In schools, the Natural
Object Categorisation Research Group at Plymouth University
have been exploring how robotics can be incorporated into the UK
National Curriculum. As they
Using AIBO robots in the class is easy and fun to do.
You can extend pupil understanding of control and AI from traffic
light controllers and state machines to state of art intelligent
machines. AIBO robots can see, walk, navigate around obstacles and
even talk to each other. These complex interactions with the real
world provide an excellent introduction to today's state of art
machines and to the future (their future) of intelligent machines.
Using AIBO allows learners to be exposed to very high level concepts
in machine control that is common in the latest intelligent machines,
including cellnet phones and electronic games and the complex management
control systems in every car.
They link to some interesting reports and videos about teaching. The
youngest group taught was only between 7 and 10 years, and used flow
charts to program simple behaviours into Aibo.
Although I once read about a DEC-10 program which made a disc
drive "walk" across the room, most programmers can assume their
computer will remain safely where they leave it. Not so Aibo. And
since Aibo is expensive, and contains fine moving parts, some care
is needed. As one user says, though it may be cute to make Aibo
bob his head up and down in a greeting, letting the code loop until
his battery runs down or joints seize up is not a good idea. Similarly,
if you are working on a desk or table, remember that Aibo may walk
off the edge and damage himself in a fall. He is fragile.
I've tried here to hack my way through the jungle of Aibo information.
There's masses of stuff out there, from little R-CODE routines to
make your doggie dance and sing, to experimental robot languages
and Aibo application development frameworks. If you're interested
in "pet emulation", either for yourself or perhaps in teaching children,
AiboPet's graphical R-CODE interface YART
has a lot of work behind it. Look also to see what Sony are currently
offering in the way of graphical editors. The Plymouth Browsing
the Web to get familiarised with Aibo is a nice little guide
which links to many useful sites.
Serious AI-ers should look at Tekkotsu,
a standardised and reliable, free, open-source, framework which
avoids a lot of the low-level programming tedium. Read also the
tutorial on OPEN-R, which explains a lot that's hard to find
out elsewhere. Researchers interested in language design could note
that despite all the (justified) claims in favour of functional,
logic and equational languages, these are yet to be proven on Aibo;
though Jelle Herold's SWI-Prolog might offer one starting point.
And how about seeing how those rat cortical neurons would fare when
given control of a robot dog?
- One of many Sony sales sites.
- Brief history slide-show from Sony, with pictures of the prototypes.
- >From the people who brought you Tekkotsu, a summary of Aibo's
hardware, with pictures. This URL, on a major hobby site, links
to pictures of the innards from two early models: www.aibosite.com/sp/gen/index-2.html.
- Searching for "etienne" on this Home Robot News and Reviews
page will find you a disappointed review of Aibo's sensory software.
N.B. Always check model numbers when reading reviews, as there has
been a lot of progress since the first model.
- A rather amusing review of Aibo, from the point of view of a dog
owner. To quote, "Supposedly the robot has 'free will'.... but,
I think I'd like it better if it always did what I asked of it.
I've already got a real dog with free will and it's not all it's
cracked up to be let me tell ya. :-)". Incidentally, the link Dogs
in Elk Carcass, www.farmount.org/nightshade/dogelk.html,
is a hilarious account of what happens when free will in real dogs
goes very badly awry.
www.aibohack.com/ - AiboPet's
site. There are links to YART tutorials, and information on R-CODE
and OPEN-R. At least with the latter two, it will help to have looked
at the Sony software development site, http://openr.aibo.com/.
Amongst other information, this contains FAQs on R-CODE and OPEN-R.
The AiboLife site www.aibo-life.org contains, under the URL www.aibo-life.org/forums/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=7;t=000053,
some R-CODE snippets sent in by users. There is also an R-CODE reference
with short examples of each language construct.
- The ENSTA OPEN-R tutorial. Recommended to all OPEN-R programmers.
- Home page for Tekkotsu. Recommended. The page includes links to
a beginner's tutorial, and to downloads.
- As an example of work on language development, here are slides
describing a reimplementation of the 3APL agent language for Aibo.
For 3APL itself, see www.cs.uu.nl/3apl/.
For an Aibo port of SWI-Prolog, with download, see http://defekt.nl/aibo3apl/moin.cgi/FrontPage?action=show&redirect=StartSeite.
- Ian Horswill's Lisp-based GRL language, which has been tested
on Aibo prototypes.
- Grounding Symbols in Perception with two Interacting Autonomous
Robots. This paper, by the ENSTA team who produced the OPEN-R
tutorial, investigates the symbol-grounding problem using Aibos.
It also describes URBI - Universal Robotic Body Interface - a layer
that like Tekkotsu sits above OPEN-R in order to simplify programming.
- An example of university teaching using Aibo, a project that does
mapping and path planning.
- Browsing the Web to get familiarised with Aibo. This is the
summary of Aibo Web resources produced at Plymouth. I recommend it
to school teachers and indeed, all Aibo users. This page, www.cis.plym.ac.uk/cis/projects/aiboschool.html,
describes the various levels of school teaching done with Aibo.
- Scientific American article on AiboPet and the Digital
Millennium Copyright Act. There is an article by Wired at
and a page on The DMCA vs. the First Amendment, by Tekkotsu
researcher David Touretzky, at http://www-2.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/DMCA/Gallery/.
It includes a link to the letter Sony sent AiboPet.
- Aibo security alert! Spoof on the buffer-overflow attack that
invades Aibo with experimental PitBull code.
Thanks to Steven Green of Greenius, http://greenius.ltd.uk,
for telling me about the University of Florida work.
Past newsletters are available at either www.ddj.com
As ever, interesting links and ideas for future issues are very
welcome. Feel free to contact either myself (below) or Jocelyn <firstname.lastname@example.org>
with comments, thoughts and suggestions.
Until next month,
Copyright ©2004 Amzi! inc., CMP, and Jocelyn Paine. All Rights