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Robot Questions

November 12, 2012

In ICT this week Year 4 have been discussing robots. The children ave come up with a variety of questions about robots and they would be thrilled if any experts in robotics would answer the questions below.

  1. Could a robot tell you off? (Leah and Tabitha)
  2. Can robots speak like a human? (Henry)
  3. Can robots have baby robots? (Neel)
  4. Can robots die? (AJ)
  5. Can robots eat food and where does it come put? (Murdo and Harry)
  6. If humans got extinct could robots repopulate the Earth? (Hugo)
  7. Can a robot read a book? (Gemma)
  8. Can robots do anything when not programmed? (Jemima)
  9. What is the best robot? (Oscar)
  10. Can robots run 50 mph? (Michael)
  11. Can robots climb trees? (Lucas)
  12. How do robots talk? (Seb)
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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Carl Simmons permalink
    November 12, 2012 1:42 pm

    What a bunch of fantastic Questions Year 4!

    1. See Q12. Robots could tell you off, but you might find it hard to tell that they were angry. When humans are angry their voices get louder and their pitch changes a lot, programming a robot to do this is difficult. Try this to see what I mean.. http://CodeWelt.com/proj/speak?lang=en-us&text=Mr%20Leach%20that%20is%20very%20naughty.%20I've%20warned%20you%20not%20to%20do%20that%20stop%20doing%20it%20now!

    2. See Q12

    3. Yes sort of – Robots could be made which could make copies of themselves – imagine a robot going into your shed and using the tools and stuff you have in there to make a twin. Likely robots to do this would be Nanobots (tiny robots) which could work together to make new robots, they might behave like a swarm of insects.

    4. Yes – they can break in such a way that they could not be put back together – but if you could copy their brain into another robot would they still have died?

    5. Getting energy from food is a messy business and electric circuits tend to be damaged by water. Electricity is a more easily used form of fuel for robots – they can get this by burning fuel, nuclear batteries or renewable energy like solar and wind. It’s possible that a robot with a bio-reactor could be built which would take in some form of food and release the energy from it through a chemical reaction. I would eject this material from a Biofuel Unloading Mechanism or BUM.

    6. Robots that can make other robots could see Q3.

    7. Robots can turn book pages, scan pictures and writing and turn these scans into text like you can edit in a word processor. But they cannot understand what’s written like you can – even when you were in reception.

    8. Rust

    9. It depends what you mean by “Best” some robots do really useful, but boring things. Some look and behave like humans (called androids). Some need to be told what to do all of the time, others are good at making decisions for themselves. Some are cute, others ugly. I like SPIRIT and OPPORTUNITY – the Mars Rovers that do an incredible job of extending our reach to other planets.

    10. The fastest robot with legs can run at 28.3mph – still faster than Usain Bolt! see http://www.mobilemag.com/2012/09/06/creepy-robot-cheetah-is-the-fastest-robot-on-land-video/ I’m sure there must be robots on wheels that can go faster than this.

    11. Yes there are lots of tree climbing robots – that can at least climb trees with human control. For example – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h5M_YJdrRyw

    12. Robots talk by using a speech synthesiser which can change written words into sounds. Just like how you in infants learned what the “oo” sound says (phonics). Generally robots aren’t as good at blending sounds and making their voices go up and down at the right times as you are! Also most robots only say what they are programmed to say – they struggle with conversations.

    Hope you find out lots more about robots and that you think about being a robot inventor when you grow up.

    Carl Simmons
    Computer Science Subject Co-ordinator
    Edge Hill University
    UK

  2. November 12, 2012 2:39 pm

    Thank you so much for those fantastic answers. I’m sure Year 4 will be thrilled when they read them.

  3. November 12, 2012 3:07 pm

    1) Only if you ask it to.
    2) Robots can accurately replicate the sound of human speech but struggle to speak in the same way as a human.
    3) Yes, there are some robots that are capable of making other robots. There are now devices called 3D printers that can make copies of the themselves.
    4) That depends of whether you think they where alive in the first place!
    5) Robots need energy just like humans but this usually is in the form of electricity.
    6) Only with other robots
    7) Yes but it would not enjoy it or understand it.
    8) Only if programmed to
    9) In my opinion the best real robot is Honda’s Asimo, the best fictional one is WALL-E
    10) The current running record for a robot is 18mph. But thats for a robot on legs, robots on wheels or tracks can move much faster.
    11) You could build one to but it would probably not do it in the same way as you or I would.
    12) They use a speaker just like the one on your phone or computer. They use a special program called a speech synthesizer to convert text into something that sounds like human speech.

  4. November 12, 2012 5:25 pm

    For Murdo and Harry. You might like to have a look at SlugBot here:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/503149.stm

    This robot was designed to catch slugs and then eat them.

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