Design robots for children: robotics or design?

    Good afternoon, dear readers. This time we decided to try a not-so-typical genre on our blog, probably even not at all typical for Geektimes, and we want to offer you a thought about why we need children's robots-designers, is it fair to relate them to robotics, even for children, and Is it possible to call a designer of robots that you just need to assemble from parts?

    The idea of ​​thinking mechanisms is not very new in itself, and its theoretical foundations should be sought in Egyptian culture, although this rested on beliefs and was based on religious foundations. In particular, some statues of the Cairo Museum, depicting the gods and dated 2500 BC. e., had large openings on the back side, and as scientists believe, a material oracle was hiding in them. For a simple person - this was the embodiment of an artificial, more - divine mind.

    In Hermes ’Iliad (Gnedich lane) Hermes had дев robotic maidens’, gold maids, like living girls:

    <...> Lame came out; handmaids, holding the lord by the arms,
    They walked golden, living like beautiful virgins <...>

    The myth of Pygmalion, who fell in love with the statue he created, should also be included here. But perhaps the most striking example of ancient robotics is the dove of Architus of Tarento .

    Not so many written fragments came from the Architects themselves, so the descriptions of the dove should be sought in other sources. About this, including, writes Aul Gellius in " Attic Nights ":

    “But what, as they say, the Pythagorean Arch invented and did, is no less surprising and yet should not seem equally absurd. Indeed, many of the illustrious Greeks, and the philosopher Favorin, who studied ancient messages with the greatest zeal, wrote with full confidence that the pigeon figurine, made by Archit from a tree with the help of some calculation and mechanical science, flew; it rose, one must think, with the help of weights and was set in motion by a breath of locked and hidden [inside] air. I swear by Hercules, it is necessary to quote the words of Favorin himself about such an implausible matter: “The Tarentinian Arch, being generally inventive, made a wooden flying dove; when he sat down, he no longer rose. "

    Here in thisbook, in chapter 1. 1 gives the words of Aristotle that it would be nice if there were mechanisms that could perform certain actions that would solve the issue with slaves that simply would not be needed.

    The Islamic world also made a significant contribution to the development of robotics, and one of the most famous treatises describing robots is considered to be Al-Jazari’s Book of Knowledge on Witty Mechanical Devices, which dates from 1206. Robot


    Further, in order not to go deeper, it is worth calling everyone the famous robot knight Leonardo da Vinci, which was prepared for the exhibition, something like CES-1495, but reconstructed in our time.

    At the same time, watchmakers are connected to the mechanics of robots, who use their skills and gears to create mechanical amusing animals and insects. As the first creator of the robot with a "human face" called Hans Ballmann. At the same time, Giovanni Torriani , who created the lute player, also worked ; in England, John Dee shows a mechanical beetle in the mid-16th century:

    A French surgeon and anatomist Pierre Ambroise creates a model of artificial muscles.

    In 17-18, the creation of mechanical robots becomes so widespread that it is hardly worth looking for the first, second, third ... At this time, whole theaters, mechanical, are created, where self-moving dolls are used as actors, people are surprised by mechanical animals, for which the biological cycle is completely recreated : they eat, defecate, get sick ... You can mention the cute figures of Henri-Louis Jacquet-Dro.

    Chapek and Azimov

    One of them, together with his brother, introduced this “term” in 1920 , and the second formulated a peculiar definition of what the robot should do and what should not.

    1. A robot cannot harm a person or, through inaction, allow a person to be harmed.
    2. The robot must comply with the orders of people, if they do not contradict point 1.
    3. The robot must take care of its existence until it contradicts laws 1 and 2.

    Simply put, since the 20th century robots have been given the opportunity to think, and they began to understand robotics not so much mechanical or electronic devices programmed to perform certain functions, but machines with artificial intelligence.

    However, the farther the better, and from imitating a person who is purely formal to complete copying, as they say - one step.

    Toy Robot

    One of the varieties, however, probably the only one that existed until our time. Most of the robots of the past, of course, were created for fun, and the large-scale classification that exists today is the merit of the last fifty years. So there were numerous industrial robots, medical, transport, military, etc., simply put, covering all areas of human life, and then again in a circle came in children's toys.

    They can also be divided into groups, for example, “educational / game”, “prefabricated / whole”, “managed / not controlled” and as you like. In the same row are robotic designers, who have several obvious pedagogical tasks at once, some of which perform the designer’s functionality, others - the capabilities of robotics to one degree or another.

    Moreover, it is logical that not every constructor is a robot, and not every robot is a constructor. Although many children's toys, even the most simple, such as this one instance , first you need to collect. On the other hand, from the same Lego bricks it is easy to make something robot-like, reproducing the stereotypical understanding of this creation.

    Then - what is a constructor.

    Classically, the history of a constructor is usually associated with the name of Frank Hornby., creator of Meccano, an invention that enriched himself and made happy thousands of outsiders. Everyone knows his invention, the metal parts of which made it possible to create a variety of gizmos.

    Traditionally, a designer should be understood as a set of typical elements that allow you to reproduce a variety of objects, stylized reminiscent of objects of animate or inanimate nature. So, for example, this can be illustrated by the combined model, which is considered the smallest: Meccano fly.

    Such a “metaphorical approach” when one of the characteristics, be it visual in Meccano or Lego designers, or functional, such as a traffic light in Mikronika“, And defines the designer as a toy. At the same time, the universality of parts will also be key, when any part or set of parts can be a foot, can be a wall, can be a pillar, etc. Therefore, the mentioned robot acrobat cannot be a designer, since his head is only his head, his leg is only his foot, etc., despite the fact that the model is a combined team.

    In pedagogical terms, it will be enough to distinguish several types of designers by type:

    • Following the pattern , the construction takes place according to strictly specified instructions, and in the finale the child receives what he sees in front of him in the picture.
    • According to the conditions, there is no instruction, but certain restrictions are created: you need to build a house.
    • By design - the child himself chooses what to build and what details to use for this.

    The latter is the most creative option, but, unfortunately, modern designers made according to the Meccano principle no longer have such capabilities. In kits, most often they put a strictly defined number of parts to make it enough for the model from the instructions, and it takes a lot of imagination to create something individual. At the same time, the creators argue with such metrics as motility, perseverance, attention, concentration, etc. Many scientists have said

    that hands are the “visible part of the cerebral hemispheres” , including Kant, teacher Sukhomlinsky, so designers are still trending.

    In general, this is how it all developed, while the designers were separate and the robots separate, but modern capabilities have made it possible to successfully combine everything. So there was Meccanoid, an android robot based on Meccano constructor:

    And much more with the help of Raspberry or Arduino began to be programmed, including with the details of the famous designer. All this began to fall into the category of robotics, although the stereotyped robot, with two legs, arms and a head, did not always resemble.

    As a result, it turned out that the designers were “useless”, who performed only some pedagogical functions, including explanatory ones, remained in the category of toy designers, robot toys, and the details of the designers programmed with the help of various languages ​​to perform some or significant actions - went to "robotics".

    Designer Robot

    Of the latest models of robot designers, you probably know the 14-in-1 model , which preserves the best traditions of design. Firstly, despite the fact that this is a “work according to the model”, you can still create a fairly large number of models.

    Secondly, the understanding of the robot as a structure that is capable of independently performing some algorithmic movements, actions, is also preserved. A solar-powered toy is able to move.

    Thirdly, peripheral requirements are observed: a set of standard parts that, depending on the model being assembled, can perform different functions.

    In the end, probably, it should be recognized that toys that are labeled as “design robots” are more in the design category and should fulfill the tasks of developing motor functions, creative abilities, and the ability to think vividly, rather than learning the basics of robotics. Since the shape of the robot is rather a tribute to fashion, modern culture, and the functions of the robot are not fully available to such designers.

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