Double the Robots, Double the Problems

A project log for The Emergence Project

An experiment in group machine intellegence (Or lack thereof...)

Greg DaneauGreg Daneau 07/03/2014 at 02:230 Comments

We hit a small snag at this point. The good news was that Johnny's twin brother Frankie (looking quite sporty in red) had been finished. The bad news was that now both 'bots were displaying the same lack of control, and it wasn't the software. Jenny, Justin, and Derek worked miracles with the code, replacing the slow and clunky script the 'bots were originally programmed with, in favor of something much more refined and streamlined. Unfortunately, it didn't solve the problem, and now we had twice the number of malfunctioning robots. Double and triple checking the code provided no clues, and neither did checking all the electrical connections over and over again. If we couldn't get past these baby steps we were in real trouble. As we had them sitting on one of the worktables poking them for the thousandth time and muttering to ourselves, one of our fellow hackerspace members poked his head in to see what we were so upset about. After glancing at the circuit board for about two seconds he asked, "How are you regulating the power? Arduinos can get twitchy if their power isn't regulated." We blinked at each other for a couple seconds, then argued for a couple minutes as to who's fault it was that such an obvious detail had been overlooked. This produced no results, so we opted instead to go to the parts bins, grab a couple of $2 5v voltage regulators, and jammed them in line with the Ardweeny microcontroller. Problem solved.

We then started chasing the 'bots around the electronics and craft areas of Pumping Station: One. It was almost sitcom-worthy. Johnny would jam his edge sensors under a desk. By the time we freed him, Frankie had disappeared. We'd follow the sound of electric motors to try to find him, but you couldn't see him anywhere. About that time he'd manage to extricate himself from under the shelving unit he had driven under, only to drive into the clear trailing dust bunnies behind him like a bridal train. By the time we cleaned those off so he didn't wrap them around his motor shafts, Johnny had driven clear into the other room and managed to wedge himself under a moving dolly. This went on for a good half hour. The only thing that kept it from being irritating and tedious was that the 'bots were working exactly like they were supposed to at this point. It made the snickering of our hackerspace mates completely worthwhile.

Greg: "Geez... I feel like I'm babysitting!"

Hef: (laughing) "You know, I think you are."