Covered in Scorpions -

Mar. 9th, 2013

12:57 am

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A product that should exist; robot simulator. With several environments and components as plugins so they can be easily added, with everything based on things that actually exist - so you could build a virtual robot, for example, made of an arduino board or a raspberry pi, say, with moisture sensors or GPS or cameras or LEDs or lasers or motors or arm-controllers or touch-screens or whatever, attached to whatever pins of the boards, plus batteries or solar panels or etc. then you can program it in a virtual arduino/pi programming environment, and see how it operates in a given context.

Uses:

  1. Prototype a concept without having to buy parts or solder anything.
  2. It would be a fun game to make fake robots fight each other or solve problems. It could be better TV than "Robot Wars" because there wouldn't be any safety limitations! (You could apply price or weight limits for different robot classes.)
  3. Get your prototype actually built since the virtual one is essentially assembled from real parts.
There was a game kind of like this years ago, but the programming part was a very limited pseudo-language of drag-and-drop instructions, and the available components were also very limited (there was no GPS or triangulation facility, nor any sort of 'out' signals, only passive 'receive' signals, geared entirely to fighting robots in a very limited arena, rather than solving problems).

I realize it seems like an insanely complicated thing, but there's already basically all the physics simulation that's the hard part, making realistically inaccurate sensors is mostly trivial by comparison (though doing things like lasers flickering at an invisibly high frequency coupled with light sensors or large volumes of flowing water could be tough - it wouldn't be that hard to simulate adequately but it would be hard to simulate in real-time. But for non-human-controlled robots that's fine, you could simulate it slow overnight and play it back real-time the next morning to see what happens.)

It seems like if such a product existed it would likely lead to vastly faster development of all sorts of useful automation. A lot of people like to solve problems or make cool things, but we can't all afford the hardware to experiment.

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From:infintysquared
Date:March 9th, 2013 08:27 am (UTC)
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Once I pieced together what you meant at large, I found myself nodding in agreement. Physics games and sims have come far enough that they're a much cheaper prototyping lab.
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