Do robots have personality?
October 22, 2009
Many sci-fi shows and books depict robots with personality, sometime as the result of an accident like the movie "Short Circuit", sometimes intentionally as in the movie "I, Robot". Now that I am working for Dagu I have discovered that even simple robots demonstrate personality.
At the moment I have made several "Mr. General" robots. In theory they are all identical and should have the same program. In practise I have to tweak the program for each individual robot to calibrate the servos, sensors etc. Despite trying to make them all the same, each has a different behaviour. So far I have had:
Shy robot, shys away from your hand instead of following it (sensor wires back to front).
Exorcist robot, A robot that worked but the head movement was unusual (sensor wires and servos swapped)
Paranoid robot, afraid to move (edge sensors not calibrated properly)
Suicide robot (doesn't detect edge till too late!)
Cataract robot, A robot slightly blind on the left side (possible heat damage to 1 phototransistor)
Angry robot, A robot that spun about wildly (loose wire)
Depressed robot, A robot that sulked and stared at the floor (flat batteries)
Even without human error, when you put 2 or more robots together you get other personality traits emerge. With two robots together I've had:
Boy Bot - Girl Bot, one that is dominant and chases the other.
Battle Bots, robot arguments where they shake their heads at eachother and push each other about.
Doggy Bots, a robot sniffing another like a dog.
Wrestling Bots, 1 robot lifting the other so its wheels can't grip and then pushing it about.
This unexpected behavior is both strange and fun to watch and results mainly from the fact that no two robots are the same due to component tolerances and the fact that each robots sensors are getting different information.
Or is it the ghost in the machine?