How much CPU power (in flops) would be necessary to run a general purpose robot maid? I’m lazy. To what animal would its intelligence be comparable? And if it’s less intelligent than a chimpanzee, why can’t we have chimp butlers?
General purpose robots don’t need much in the way of processing power. A slow 386 would even be overkill. Such a machione would not even be as smart as an insect, most likely. Certainly nowhere near chimp level.
Chimps may be fairly smart creatures, but they’re just not good at detail-oriented work like cleaning and cooking. They can be taught to go through the motions, of course, but the result is anything but satisfactory if you want a truly clean house and good food.
It depends on what you want the robot to do; if you want it to be a bipedal humanoid that can respond to complex voice commands, then you’ll need all the processing power you can get, but if you just want it to be a mobile vaccuum cleaner to trundle around and sweep the floors (perhaps avoiding unmapped obstacles), then it can probably be done with a very low powered computer.
One of the mars rovers used an 8085 (space cpu’s are always a generation or two behind the current stuff because it takes so long to get things radiation hardened). With a little creative programming, you can do a lot without a lot of brain power.
A 386 or 486 embedded cpu board will allow you to cross compile and test on a standard desktop PC, and you won’t have to worry so much about how much space your code takes up.
Chimps are cute as a baby but when they get to be an adult they are known to sometimes test your authority and have the strength to rip your arms out of their sockets if they get really mad at you. Dogs can do wonders. Check into some of the things that trained dogs do for handicapped people. It’s amazing.
Note that computers and animals think in a completely different way. A computer has less brain power than a gnat, but it can follow whatever instructions you (with the intelligence) put into it. Creativity in setting up the machine makes it emulate intelligence, but computers by themselves are as dumb as mud.
If you program directly in assembly, use intelligent algorithms, and don’t need the machine to do wonders (for example, walking upright), something as simple as an Intel 8085 or a MOSTEC 6502 would probably suffice. The 6502 was, for example, was used in the Commodore 64 as the main CPU, and is a somewhat atypical eight-bit chip optmized for use with fast RAM (at least, RAM with access times faster than the CPU’s clock speed). Someone has written a simple neural net program in Commodore 64 assembly, demonstrating the utility of even obsolete CPUs in AI programming.
Of course, you won’t get to use an OS per se if you choose a low-end chip. You could probably get away with putting some low-level hardware access subrotuines in ROM (or, in your case, nonvolitile RAM), but 90% of everything will have to be hand-coded in assembly by you. But that won’t be a problem: The device will, by definition, be a single-tasking machine and you won’t have to worry about security concerns.
And you won’t get very much beyond the basics out of any system of that type. A self-controlled vacuum cleaner would be comfortably achieved if you don’t mind having it bang into everything at least lightly. Something to pick things up and move them to a specific area would be more complex, particularly the visual system (so it doesn’t grab at shadows) and the mechanism used to pick things up (maybe a scoop would be the simplest option here).
I don’t really care about the floor being vacuumed. I just want something that can bring me stuff from the refrigerator while i’m watching tv without nagging me about how the floor needs to be vacuumed.
That’s a bit trickier. It’s not at all a trivial problem. It’s simple enough to probgram a 'bot to navigate around a relatively unchanging environment, but getting it to identify specific items, like a can of beer or a ham sandwhich, while not mistaking them for a can of coke and a turkey sandwich is nontrivial. For this, current reseach into neural nets is probably your best bet.
The field of AI is in its infancy, despite the fact that we’ve been at it constantly since the 1940s (Alan Turing was one of the biggest men in the field until he commited suicide, and he worked on cracking German codes in WWII). We simply cannot get a machine to truly comprehend anything: Following a program is simple enough, but improvisation and true decision-making is quite beyond us. We can fake it to some extent, but getting a machine to differentiate between a ham sandwich and a turkey sandwich in an unstructured environment is difficult to the point of impossibility.
If you were to wrap all of the food and label it with barcodes, the problem would be reduced to recognizing general outlines and scanning the codes. That’s much easier, and well within our current knowledge. It might even be feasible on cheap, outdated hardware. But as the problem stands, it is not reasonably soluble given current technology.
The non-technical solution would be to move the refrigerator closer to the television.
Well, if it has to be a true “A.I.” machine, we’re still trying to work that one out. It could be awhile.
I WILL speculate, however, that it wouldn’t have to be a “superintelligent” artificial intelligence…a stupid one would probably suffice. As long as it was sufficiently self-aware, and could (and would be willing to) follow orders. And not try to kill you. (The last one is probably easier to take care of than is commonly feared)
So, you’d need a computer that could essentially simulate a person, if only a person with an I.Q. of 75.
And it has been done!
I own a Roomba fully automatic vacuum cleaner, which does a great job of keeping the floors clean. It’s equipped with (IIRC) a 1MHz 8051 CPU. (That’s a very old, but tried-and-true general purpose microcontroler, used in a lot of ‘intelligent’ appliances etc.)
If you want something to manouver around, obey voice commands, bring beer, do the laundry, cook and do the shopping, current robotics isn’t there yet - I suggest you look into getting a maid instead.
That’s amazing, I need one of those! To bad i can’t go up and down the stairs