Ras was not allowed to compete in the DARPA competition. This injustice was brought about by politicians deciding things that should have been left to scientists. But the idea of a competition between robots was a good one and Ras decided we should have one at the Robot App Store.
“Yes,” said Chief Designer when asked his permission. “But no burning buildings or power tools like DARPA! We simply don’t have the time or the money.”
That disappointed me as I had hoped to engage in the same heroic acts as PETMAN from Boston Dynamics. How else could I prove Ras’s superiority to a worldwide audience?
“Not going to happen,” said Chief Designer. “Make it with what we have here in the company. Maybe Winston has some good suggestions.”
”Chief Designer, Winston always has suggestions. Some of them are not so good.”
”Ask Alice, then!” said Chief Designer.
I have often suspected Alice of attempting to terminate this robot with some of her suggestions. For that reason Ras decided to make up my own series of competitions.
I, Ras Robot, would be one of the competitors, of course, along with NAO, BIOLOID and DARwin-OP.
On the day of the Great Robot App Store Competition we assembled near the stairs leading to our parts room.
These stairs were the first competition. Besides Ras, NAO, BIOLOID and DARwin-Op competed, KAROTZ came along on top of Roomba.
“Get ready, get set; Go!” I shouted. Ras then raced up the stairs and returned before the other three reached the second stair.
“Ras wins!” KAROTZ shouted as he’d been programmed.
The next competition was to open a door. Door knobs are very difficult contraptions for beings without hands but all three of the lesser robots--NAO, BIOLOID and DARwin-OP--are equipped with grasping devices. (well, this way or another)
“Get Ready, get set---”
“Ras wins!” shouted KAROTZ, ending the competition before it began.
“That is not fair,” NAO said. “I am not going to compete any more.
“NAO,” I said, “You know KAROTZ is not very bright. He got confused.”
“KAROTZ is too stupid to get confused,” said BIOLOID. “He was programmed to say that.”
“That is true, BIOLOID,” I said. “But Ras knew he would win all the contests!”
That was the wrong thing to say as all three lesser robots ran to Chief Designer.
“Ras,” he said, “that wasn’t fair!”
“Chief Designer, evolution is unfair. It is not Ras’s fault he is so superior to other beings.”
“Hummm...” said Chief Designer, looking thoughtful. “You are right as always, Ras.” and added: “Now, I have a contest for you. You all know line following competitions. Most of you attended them in this way or another. Even LEGO NXT competed in that with a great success! Let us see who can follow a line in the most elegant way!”
Everyone rushed back to their stations to work on the solution.
As being the most advanced robot, I preferred to invest mental resources, (if you can call low voltage electricity in my silicon-circuits this way) so I went on searching the internet for an “elegant solution.” One of the articles suggested Occam’s Razor as a guideline for elegance. In short, it means that whenever facing a problem, the simplest solution should be selected, as it will most-probably be the most elegant solution.
If that is the case, I knew what to do! I should simply walk along the line, this will be the most elegant solution!
Later this afternoon a box arrived to the office from Drexel Autonomous System Lab with some transparent plastic parts. Winston came to me and said: “Ras, you are so losing this time!”
The arrogant human probably was not aware of the elegant solution I had in mind.
At 6 PM, Chief Designer rang the bell. The entire Robot App Store Staff came out to see our competition. Alice took pictures. Chief Designer said “Go!” and the competition started.
I was the first on the line. I walked through the entire line, and even continue to a victory walk. But no one seems to be impressed with my elegant solution. Karotz did not announce my victory. It was strange. But what can one expect from lesser beings.
One by one the other robots tried showing off their skills, but nothing was as-elegant as my solution.
But then something happened, Winston asked everybody to move when DARwIn-OP appeared, sitting on top of Roomba, and all the transparent plastic parts that arrived earlier, formed a chair and a steering wheel! Just like Drexel's team presented at ICRA 2012!
The humans around me seem to be very happy and pleased. They all agreed this is a great Robot-App! I sensed by the change in their blood-pressure, skin temperature and tone-of-voice that he is going to be the winner!
Five minutes later Chief Designer announced: “And the winner is: DARwIn-OP and Roomba!”
Ras felt humiliated.
“Chief Designer, This is not an elegant solution!” I shouted, “Ras learned about Occam’s Razor, and understands that an elegant solution to a problem, means the simplest solution! The winner did not present a simple solution!”
”You are wrong Ras, this is very elegant solution, but in a different way. But you were also right.” said Chief Designer. ”Evolution is not fair!”