Thursday, October 2, 2014

RoboSnail: a Robot Kids Can Observe and Learn from Directly!

EDITOR'S NOTE: This very nice article was sent in by the provider of RoboSnail, which just may turn out to be one of the very first robots that young people have direct experience with in their daily lives - either in their own homes or in school. Kids need to become familiar and comfortable with robots being part of their immediate surroundings, and items like RoboSnail are an opportunity to provide that experience right now.



by Milan Rafailovich President/CEO of AquaGenesis,
in collaboration with

The idea behind Robosnail was to take over the drudgery of cleaning algae and slime off the walls of an aquarium in order to keep the inside sparkling clean and easy to see through. As any aquarium owner can tell you, that’s a thankless and never-ending task. Some types of fish as well as living snails will do the job, but it usually takes a human touch to get it done right.

Not anymore, not with RoboSnail on the job. The RoboSnail takes over the job of underwater window cleaning quickly and painlessly. After a short setup session, RoboSnail crawls around the tank day after day, removing all trace of algae buildup without ever needing any help. Maintenance is minimal and only needs doing about once every couple of months.

Not only is RoboSnail good at keeping an aquarium clean, it’s also an interesting learning tool for robot lovers, especially for those interested in the practical application of robotics. Watch this window scrubber and you can learn about some of the most basic and important principles of robotics in a new and engaging way.

When you start RoboSnail, the first thing it does is to use its sensors to check out the top and sides of the aquarium. Sensors are essential in robotics, because they provide the input needed for the robot to function. Without any way to gather data from the world around it, all a robot can do is to sit – or to blunder around and crash into stuff. RoboSnail uses its sensors to gather information about the aquarium, so that it knows where the top and side edges are.

Once it has determined the lay of the land, so to speak, RoboSnail puts that information to work by calculating the most effective pattern to use to clean the glass. You help out a bit here with getting it set up, but that’s all.

RoboSnail owners can learn a lot about programming robots, how sensors work, and the process of creating and using search patterns – or, in the case of RoboSnail, cleaning patterns. RS does it all.

While you are watching this robot go back and forth as it cleans your aquarium glass, it may really sink in about just how handy a robot can be, and that it doesn’t have to be complicated to be useful. In many ways RoboSnail has a lot in common with the robots that beginning enthusiasts build to see how robots work. Builders try out sensors, search patterns, different kinds of motors, and they input programs that they hope will make it do what they want. Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t.

This application gives you a real-life view of how robots work. For some real fun, try switching it to different sizes and shapes of aquariums, and watch how it not only registers the new size, it also changes its cleaning pattern to the most efficient one for the new location. Not only is it interesting and engaging to watch, it’s also a practical lesson in the use of artificial intelligence.

Since we have launched Robosnail many aquarium owners have been relieved from the boring task of aquarium cleaning but there’s a flip side to that. It seems that some robot enthusiasts are setting up aquariums just so they can have an excuse to have a RoboSnail of their own!

PS: How do people work with RoboSnail? The video below gives some insight...

See previous post about RoboSnail:

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