One More Way To Use The Internet
At the end of my last column, I promised I'd tell you why iRobota company co-founded by two MIT grads and an MIT professorgave its remote-controlled robot human characteristics.At the end of my last column, I promised Id tell you why iRobota company co-founded by two MIT grads and an MIT professorgave its remote-controlled robot human characteristics. One premise of the column was that the Internet does not change human behavior, and I thought about that as I watched iRobots co-founders show off their latest creation last month at Demo 2001. The question of human behavior in a robot is an interesting one, because the iRobot namesake looks so unhuman. Unlike iRobots cute and amazingly lifelike My Real Babyan artificially intelligent infant created with Hasbro that went on the market last Christmas seasonthe iRobot is a long-necked, ungainly looking creature that appears to have escaped from the set of "Star Wars."
It is controlled remotely through a Web browser and shows its driver video of what it sees and audio of what it hears as it navigates through a room. It negotiates stairs unassisted with a front flipper and wheels, and can extend its neck to the height of a standard-sized table so it can see over the top or engage a seated person at his or her own level. IRobot CTO Rodney Brooks, who directs MITs Artificial Intelligence Lab, got the inspiration for iRobot by studying insects. Brooks noticed that insects can manage basic behaviorseating, mating and finding their way around their environmentsdespite having very small brains.