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Building a Working Robot Step-by-Step


Robots “see” in much the same way that humans do. Instead of eyes, however, they have cameras that capture the images and send them to the “brain” – the computer – by wires (similar to our optic nerves) where the information can be interpreted and reacted to. In the controlled environment of a manufacturing plant, where a robot might be programmed to visually inspect items on a conveyor belt or navigate a limited and predetermined route, the problem of vision requirements is not very complex.

However, for a robot expected to operate alongside people in the real world, it must have a wide and well-defined field of vision. Asimo must be able to navigate safely inside homes and buildings and on the street. It must be able to “understand” what it sees, distinguishing shadows from real objects, detecting and recognizing objects in real time by their size, shape, and color (comparing them to the thousands of items stored in its database). It must also detect multiple objects and calculate their distance, trajectory, and speed – a valuable skill to have when you wish simply to cross the street.

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