Posts tagged ‘dodds’

Followup: Athens bombing

As more details come out, it looks like I was spot-on last night in my analysis of the embassy bombing in Athens. Hot damn!

It turns out one of my coworkers used to work for Evolution Robotics, which made the ER1 I used in my robotics research a year and a half ago. It’s nice to know that he agrees with me that the ER1 could have been a great product except the basic software, power converter, and marketing department were crap (though apparently if we had sprung for the $1,000 software it would have worked better). Intriguingly, he also thinks that adding a laptop and camera to a Roomba is a good way to get a cheap robot, which is what Prof. Dodds is doing now (he was my robotics research prof). Nifty!

We Are The Champions, My Friends

As Ricco mentioned in a comment to my previous post, it turns out that we won the scavenger hunt with flying colors. We took first place in the scavenger hunt, and Sony gave us an Aibo for that (this was unexpected; we didn’t know that there were any prizes). We also got a Technical Merit award for “Overall Excellence in an Autonymous System,” which I’m really happy about – all robots at the conference were eligible for technical merits, so we apparently beat Sparticus to that one, (though it got awards for being awesome too). We’re dubbing our awards the “ghetto-badass” award and the “holy shit – it worked!” award, irrespectively. As Ricco also mentioned, our robotics lab now has 2 Aibos, and they need names (the one we currently have is called something like AIBO1 right now). At first, we were thinking of naming them Homebrew and Budget (or various spellings thereof), since that phrase has become a bit of an inside joke for the four of us (perhaps only the three of us, since Ben was out of town when we wrote the abstract). However, we might call one of them AMBR (Alan, Mac, Ben, Ricco) instead, since some people think it’s wrong to call a commercially-made robot Homebrew. Any feedback here would be appreciated.

Wednesday night, Dodds took us out to dinner to celebrate. It was hilariously like he was back in high school – since he’s spending a year on sabbatical at CMU, he has moved to Pittsburgh and is living with his mother in a 3-story penthouse above an office building. To pick us up, he borrowed his mother’s car. We went to the City Grill, which was great, and we then rode an incline, to get an historical perspective of Pittsburgh (inclines are like trolleys that go up the sides of mountains). While trying to find a parking spot, Dodds drove for a bit half on the sidewalk and half on a gravel parking lot, and since the Prius sits so low, we scraped the bottom against the corner of the sidewalk, eliciting “OOH”s from the dozen or so people walking by. When we finally got to the incline, Dodds didn’t have enough money to pay the fare for the 5 of us, so he borrowed money from both Mac and Ben. We then took the robot to Dodds’ mom’s house, where he will keep it until school starts up again. However, the building was locked and Dodds had forgotten his keys. He borrowed Mac’s cell phone to call up and see if someone could let us in, but there was no answer. So what does he do? He scales the fire escape! He also claimed to have done this several times before. It was hilarious – he was wearing suit pants and a nice, collared shirt. Our estimed professor – climbing the fire escape as though he were sneaking back home after curfew. Mac had the foresight to recommend that we get pictures of this, which we took profusely. He finally gets up there and gets his mom to come let us in. Then, to pay back Mac and Ben, he borrows money from his mom! It was just like we imagined he would have acted in high school.

On the whole, this has been the best week of the year, and I hope to go to AAAI again next year. If you’re interested in anything remotely related to AI, I strongly suggest you look into going, too.

Also, we were apparently mentioned in Wednesday’s edition of the Pittsburgh Tribune (the 2nd page of the local section, I think). Unfortunately, we don’t have any copies of this paper. If anyone can find one, we’d like it, or a scanned copy of it, or something. On a related note, we forgot to videotape the robot scavenging for the judges. If anyone happened to have been at AAAI and taped it, we’d like a copy of that too.