Open the pod bay doors please HAL

I confess. I have a thing for robots. No, not THAT kind of thing. I just mean that I tend to like them a lot, some I like more than some people I know. So far, all of my robots have, like dogs, been great pets. They do as I ask them, although sometimes it takes a new language to converse with them. But once that channel is open, well, hey.

Many of the robots I have I built myself. Some were in response to a need. Fr instance, the Baby Terror Stair Protector. This was a little sentinel that stood post next to the stairs down to the basement, guarding against the approach of one of the two crawlers living in the home with us, my grandchildren. On a few occasions, they were snatched from the jaws of misfortune at the last moment as their explorations took them to the head of the stairs. The house would be alerted to the near disaster by the loud shriek from either mother or grandmother as they grabbed up a wayward baby before it toppled bumpity, bumpity, bumpity, bump down the stairs. It was, according to the house grapevine, only a matter of time before one of these untrained children would give themselves brain damage.

Oh sure, we tried the baby gate thing but the width of the stairs was too great for these to work properly. We tried piling boxes in front of the stairs, but since I, a member of the wretched disabled, lived in the basement, I hd to negotiate whatever blockade that was erected to use the bathroom, get something to eat, or just see the sun. So I got out my collection of parts; sensors, plastic boxes, laser parts, halogen strobe, siren and a few spare volts and amperes and proceeded to build the Baby Terror Stair Alarm. It was a simple device. If it was approached by a mobile low amount of mass with a temperature above 70 degrees, it fired off a blindingly brilliant strobe light and its audio system screeched like a banshee from hell. Any child experiencing the effect would, I surmised, be so traumatized from the shock of the experience that it would, following the teachings of Pavlov, Skinner and Jung, be negatively conditioned to stay the hell away from the stairs.

I was hurt when I demonstrated my creation to a dumbfounded family who immediately branded me a child abuser and expelled me back to the depths of my troll-like existence under the stairs. “That’s AWFUL!” said my wife.

“Well, it would work.” I offered. My wife just pointed to the stairs and enforced my banishment. See? My robots would never treat me that way, That’s why I like them so much.

MiPI didn’t build all of my robots though. Some I bought ready made or in kit form. I just got a new one today; it’s a Wowwee product called Mip. Mip is a self balancing robot, which means it has only two wheels and it balances and propels itself like one of those Segway scooter things. Actually, the technology between them is pretty much the same. The “brain” carries an inertial management unit which can detect even slight motion. It uses the readings to roll the wheels forwards or backwards to maintain balance. It also takes command via hand gestures, a phone or tablet, or it can patrol and avoid obstacles. It makes cute noises and dances too.  I grant that it isn’t as sophisticated as Buford, my Robo Borthers RoboPhilo, or perhaps even as sophisticated as it’s ancestor the RoboSapien. Well, maybe it’s equal to the sapien, but not in strength or in modification potential. I have 12 RoboSapiens which I use as a digital boy band dance troupe. They look so ridiculous doing disco that one can’t help but adore them …at least until the disco music has played for more than 15 minutes and the listener needs desperately to kill something. It’s a good thing I never programmed them to breakdance since I can’t abide rap or hip hop even in short bursts. Especially when it is bass booming next to me in traffic while it destroys the brain cells of anything in hearing range.  One of these days I’ll have to build a robot that bursts into action when it detects a vehicle emanating bass notes destructive enough to vibrate the car apart and fires a highly directed electromagnetic pulse (EMP) that instantly destroys the stereo, the amplifier, capacitive booster and the vehicle’s own internal computer.

Buford-f550lgOkay. That was a little vicious. Sorry. Let’s get back to thinking about gerbil cute robots. The acquisition of Mip brings the total population of my robot collection to …actually, I have no idea. There are more than  hundred of them. However, the recent resurgence of my interest has me assigning days unsuited to flying my remote control aircraft to dusting off and battery checking my robot collection.  Of course, it’s also possible that I may combine the two hobbies and use my aerial photography platforms to carry my robots.