2 year birthday party

Happy Birthday, pib: 2 Year Milestone For Our Open Source Robotics Project

Last week, we reached yet another big milestone for pib: We celebrated our humanoid robot’s second birthday! On April 4, 2022, we launched our open source robotics project. Every year around this time, we like to get together and reminisce on what has happened in the past year. And of course, we like to have a big party!

After a round of welcome drinks, our guests gathered in our “theatre room” where freshly made popcorn was already waiting for them. We kicked off the party with our home-made pib documentation movie, summing up all major milestones from the past two years and giving voices to our team and community members alike. After the movie, it was time for a recap of what we have been working on over the past few months.

So, what is new with pib?

Together with our community, we’ve been creating lots of new features and updates for pib. For starters, we’ve optimized pib’s mobility. Our robot can now basically move its arms at all angles like a person can – as long as we are not using the world’s most mobile person as a reference. 😉

Of course, the team has also come up with a plan on how to implement these changes in two different ways: A cheaper motorization and a more powerful motorization can be operated with the same configuration.

The hardware is always the first thing you see so changes to it create great effect. However, a lot has also happened on the software side, in terms of control technology as well as simulation technology.

We now have a digital twin, which was given a birthday present last week by the community members in charge: the camera now works in the virtual environment so that the camera stream can be transmitted to the outside world where it is analyzed and control processes can then be based on it.

Progress in Human Machine Interaction: Talk to me, pib!

We are also working a lot in the human machine interaction field. You can now talk to pib via voice assistant technology. The possibility of communicating with the robot through natural speech is very exciting and also takes up a lot of our time nowadays. We believe in the great potential this topic has to offer so a lot will be happening for pib in this direction.

The technical possibilities of speech processing have already been widely available for 1.5 years. What is new is the possibility to connect the whole thing with a physical representation and now a lot of questions about human-machine interaction arise: How do we implement it? What should the speaking robot look like? Sometimes we ask ourselves things like, “Will everything I say be streamed somewhere, do I want to have time-outs? And if so, how do I communicate it – aside from simply pulling the plug and doing it radically?”

These are questions to which the answers have yet to be figured out and we are inviting our community to support us in finding the best possible solutions. If you’re interested, contact us on Discord to get started!

Experiencing bleeding edge robotics hands-on

At one of our three pib stations at the event, our guests had the chance to communicate with pib in a multimodal world, i.e. the captured image is analyzed and questions asked are then answered in context. When asking the robot “Where are we right now?” or “What do you see right now?”, an image is interpreted, and the answer is formulated accordingly. Therefore, pib was able to give rather accurate answers such as “We are in an office space” or “I see two people talking to each other”.

These are topics that contribute to even more enthusiasm among students for the pib@school project, but they are also something that we will work on in the research area and hope to identify use cases in the productive sector, ultimately helping out with daily work tasks.

Speaking of daily work tasks… 😊 Thanks to this improvement, we even got to play Tic Tac Toe with pib! We drew the game board on a whiteboard and started playing the game. Despite the incidence of light making it difficult, pib was able to see and analyze the current state of the game and then determined the next move. Unfortunately, pib lost its first round of Tic Tac Toe – but that didn’t get our robot down and its now waiting for a rematch 😊

Be a part of it!

It is a big challenge combining working on software and hardware simultaneously, especially when both are always changing. As a community, we always create new ideas on what we can do even better. And anyone is welcome to join – it is not just about hardware, not just about software, it is the combination of different topics together so different skills are required to keep the team going.

There are so many topics revolving around pib that people can get involved in that don’t necessarily have to come from a robotics, IT or scientific background. Especially in a school context, even ethical questions arise such as, how far can Artificial Intelligence go? How much should students learn about it? As already mentioned above, working on answers to these types of questions is also something we invite our community to participate in.

Sounds interesting? If you want to become part of our active community, just join our Discord server. We will help you get started! 😊

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Published On: April 19th, 2024

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