Robot Overlord: Thoughts on building robot programs

Programming robots visually is proving to be a big challenge. I thought I laid all the ground work but now I’m not so certain.

Each derivation of Robot has a derivation RobotMotionState (a snapshot of the robot at a moment in time). By comparing RobotMotionStates I hoped to test for robot/robot collisions.

I’ve also got a system to command a robot to move, which changes the RobotMotionState, checks that it’s internally valid (robot can reach that far) and externally valid (doesn’t hit anything in the world).

I’ve been stuck for months trying to build a system of RobotPrograms. Something like the Adobe Premiere or Flash timeline, where blocks of time have one command each. I couldn’t wrap my brain around it enough to come up with generalize-able cases that could be written once and work for all robots.

In a dream last night I flipped things around a bit. What if a timeline has keyframes and each keyframe is a RobotMotionState?

  • Move the timeline to a new position, move the robot to the new state, keyframe is automatically created.
  • Move to an existing keyframe, adjust the robot, done.
  • Delete an existing keyframe.
  • Drag a keyframe along the timeline.
  • Clone a keyframe.

Ideally there should be a way to interpolate between two RobotMotionStates. That way as the read head is moved along the timeline the robot(s) move between their states. There must also be a way to calculate the difference between two RobotMotionStates and send *just that change* to the robot as a command.

Oy. I’m not sure this is any easier.