ad info

 
CNN.com  technology > computing
    Editions | myCNN | Video | Audio | Headline News Brief | Feedback  

 

  Search
 
 

 
TECHNOLOGY
TOP STORIES

Consumer group: Online privacy protections fall short

Guide to a wired Super Bowl

Debate opens on making e-commerce law consistent

(MORE)

TOP STORIES

More than 11,000 killed in India quake

Mideast negotiators want to continue talks after Israeli elections

(MORE)

MARKETS
4:30pm ET, 4/16
144.70
8257.60
3.71
1394.72
10.90
879.91
 


WORLD

U.S.

POLITICS

LAW

ENTERTAINMENT

HEALTH

TRAVEL

FOOD

ARTS & STYLE



(MORE HEADLINES)
*
 
CNN Websites
Networks image


Garage-based engineers unveil their wares at the Robot Games 2000

Industry Standard

(IDG) -- "Do you like my dog?" David Calkins asked innocently. "I hacked his brain."

The dog in question -- a frisky Sony AIBO -- sniffed around the "pit" at Robot Games 2000, held Sunday at San Francisco's Exploratorium. The games are a sort of robotic Olympiad, complete with an obstacle course, a maze, Sumo wrestling (where two autonomous robots try to push each other out of a circle) and a "talent show" (featuring Win Williams' five-robot dancing troupe, the Pleasurebots).

During the past 15 years, the games have become a ruff-tech haven where garage-based engineers, techno-dreamers and scientifically minded artists test the physical side of technology outside of the increasingly slick world of dot-coms and corporate labs.

MORE COMPUTING INTELLIGENCE
IDG.net   IDG.net home page
  The Standard.com
  TechInformer: The Thinking Internaut's Guide to the Tech Industry
  A solution for problem users
  Be a technology champion, not a stone wall
  Reviews & in-depth info at IDG.net
  E-BusinessWorld
  Industry Standard email newsletters
  Questions about computers? Let IDG.net's editors help you
  Industry Standard daily Media Grok
  Search IDG.net in 12 languages
  News Radio
  * Fusion audio primers
  * Computerworld Minute

Calkins, president-elect of the Robotics Society of America and one of the organizers of the Robot Games, said, "This event is the opposite of the dot-com world. These are average people with average incomes making robots very much by themselves in the garage or living room. Although many of us work in the computer industry, we're more interested in doing cool things than vesting stocks."

John Zeissig, an artist whose six-legged robot, Fuzzknuckes (named after his cat), was competing in the obstacle course, agreed. "These robots are all home-brewed. I think it's better to build things yourself, because corporations like Sony just want to sell stuff. I'm more serious about it. I want to show that all mental events can be mimicked by certain kinds of circuitry." He paused, chuckling, then added grandly, "I want to drive a stake through the heart of spiritualism."

Despite this hyper-logical swagger, many attendees radiated a kind of science-fiction humanism. Many of the contestants and spectators treated their robots like living creatures.

"He seems to be seeing things that aren't there," mused Zeissig about Fuzzknuckes, who kept walking backward for unknown reasons. Carlo Bertocchini, whose robot Beast has been competing in the Sumo contest since 1994, patted his small, four-wheeled black box with pride. "He's a crowd-pleaser," he said, smiling.

But 14-year-old Jade Kraus, one of dozens of young contestants at the games, made the most casual techno-liberatory comment of the day. Gesturing at her chip-packed Sumo bot, she noted, "I always let him roam free in my room." Only at the Robot Games do bots and AIBOs roam free, while the humans have to obey rules.




RELATED STORIES:
Robot sport has kids competing
April 27, 2000
Robots: Will they love us? Will we love them?
September 1, 2000
Giant leap forward for space robotics
June 15, 2000
More pet robots on the way
January 26, 2000
More than a wheelchair, the IBOT is on the move
November 26, 1999

RELATED IDG.net STORIES:
SimCity creator to receive Invisionary award
(GamePro)
Be a technology champion, not a stone wall
(NW Fusion)
First Look: Anachronox
(GamePro)
Groovy gadgets for geeks
(Linuxworld)
A solution for problem users
(NW Fusion)
Backyard science on the Mac
(MacWeek)

RELATED SITES:
Robotics Society of America

Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.

 Search   

Back to the top   © 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.