"SOZZY": A Hormone-Driven Autonomous Vacuum Cleaner

Masaki Yamamoto

Domestic robots are promising examples of the application of robotics to personal life. There have been many approaches in this field, but no successful results exist. The problem is that domestic environments are more difficult for robots than other environments, such as factory floors or office floors. Consequently, conventional approaches using a model of human intelligence to design robots have not been successful. In this paper, we report on a prototyped domestic vacuum-cleaning robot that is designed to be able to handle complex environments. The control software is composed of two layers, both of which are generally inspired by behaviors of living creatures. The first layer corresponds to a dynamically reconfigurable system of behaviors implemented in the subsumption architecture. The ability of the robot to support alternate configurations of its behaviors provides the robot with increased robustness. We have conveniently labeled particular configurations as specific "emotions" according to the interpretation of observers of the robot’s behavior. The second layer simulates the hormone system. The hormone system is modeled using state variables, increased or decreased by stimuli from the environment. The hormone condition selects the robot’s most suitable emotion, according to the changing environments. The robot hardware is built of offthe- shelf parts, such as an embedded CPU, inexpensive home-appliance sensors, and small motors. These parts keep the total building cost to a minimum. The robot also has a vacuum cleaning function to demonstrate its capability to perform useful tasks. We tested the robot in our laboratory, and successfully videotaped its robust behaviors. We also confirmed the hormone system to enhance the robot’s plasticity and lifelike quality.

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