This morning I received an email from my former students asking for advise on their so-called robot project. They were asking me if i could help the find a better communication modules and what decoder/encoder should be used. Out of curiousity, i asked them what they are building. The answer is surprisingly "spider-robot". So I asked why a "spider-robot"? This is the reply "para mas lisud2 pud bah...dli raman kung wheels gmiton...." (so it will look very complicated, 'coz it would be very easy if we use wheels). I found out that they really do not have the goal of building something intelligent. By the way, these are very proud BS Mechatronics students and proud members of a robotics society (kono). They wanted to build something that looks "high-tech" but is not. So my reply goes like this: So you are only after on the mechanical sophistication and not on the machine intelligence. Robotics is not about how complicated you robot looks. It’s about how you put personality on the machine. It’s about how intelligent your machine is. It’s about how many aspects of intelligence can you consider your machine as “better than human”. It’s about serving the purpose. That is Robotics.
Now my question is what is the sense of making a spider-legged robot that can only walk on floors and a lot slower than wheeled robot and a lot more difficult to manipulate yet serves exactly the same purpose?
Until the moment I was writting this, I did not receive any responses from the students. Anyway, what do they really mean by high-tech? They simply mean something that looks complex enough to be understood by ordinary people. But that is not the purpose of having your students make a student project. What will they learn? Deception? If you are to create something, make it the unlike anything else.