Re: [mowbot] Hello, and lots of ideas

robin nospam at
Fri, 20 Sep 1996 18:41:24 +0100

On Thu, 19 Sep 1996 13:40:56 +0100, I wrote:
> To help structure the discussions, let me try to cut the problem up in
> to smaller pieces.
> There are five subsystems which need to be part of any robot design:
> intelligence, movement, sensors, effectors, power

On Fri, 20 Sep 1996 22:07:25 +1000, Dave Everett <Deverett nospam at>
> I'm not sure I entirely agree with this decomposition. The one you've
> suggested would be useful for designing a motorised computer,
> but this project will be much more than that.
I agree that the division was perhaps a bit premature given that we don't
have any set goals or specification yet.

Now it's my turn to sound pedantic:-) I don't really understand your
point about a motorised computer. Surely this is exactly what we are
designing, albeit a fairly stupid but well-equipped one? Of what are
we going to have ``much more''?

> Any or all of the subsystems listed may become part of the finished
> project, but they will not be subsystems as I will explain.
I suspect my use of the term ``subsystem'' might be the problem. It would
have been better to call them ``aspects of the design'' at this stage.
But please do explain why, later on, they won't be subsystems.

> The danger I see with this mailing list is that it
> could become anarchic, with everyone talking about any element of the
> project without and formal agenda.
Good point. But I hope that the group will not get bogged down in
formality either. Perhaps the best thing is to get the most important
administrative sorted out so we can move on quickly. So I formally
propose that the following items be put on the agenda for discussion:
* Organisation
- Appointment of ``chairman'' of the meeting. He gets to tell
people to move on when a point has already been made, does any
formal calls for comments, sets the timetable for moving on
the discussion, has the final say in deadlocked disputes etc.
It seems to me that this person should be Ray as he is to
blame for it all in the first place:-)
- Appointment of the secretary.
At some point we'll need a potted history of discussion to date.
As time goes by, this will expand to a portfolio of design
notes. This will be useful for newcomers and for reference
during discussion, and could be posted periodically to Usenet.
The automatic archiving by the list server and the proposed
Web/ftp site will help with this. I'll stand for this post.
* Legal
Ugh. But we should get clear where we stand if someone
wants to start turning out Mowbots commercially.
* Goal
What is to be the result of this project? A single design?
A set of designs? A kit of parts? A build service? An
off-the shelf device?
* Timetable
Target dates for when things are to be done. Ultimately set
and modified as necessary by the chairman.
* Specification
Start by getting a general overview of what people want,
to help secretary work up lists of:
- requirements (``it must cover an acre a day'')
- suggestions (``it should be powered by burning the cuttings'')
- nifty bits that we'll put in only if it's easy to do so
(``can it talk? what about lighting up at night?'')
- test scenarios that we can use as thought experiments for
design ideas (``I've got a fishpond/lawn sprinkler/cat'')
(I'm not (necessarily) serious about the suggestions in brackets:-)
Several existing posts have already made points that should be put
in one or other of these lists.

Dave wrote:
> I'm willing to donate web space for the specifications, drawings, FAQ
> etc as we progress.
Thanks. We'll certainly need it. I could offer to scan in anything on
paper or film, but I suspect most people would find it easier to do that
sort of job locally than smail it to me!

I wonder if, before we really get going, it would be a good idea to tell
comp.robotics.misc about this list. I know Ray asked for participation
there earlier, but now that the list exists and is so easy to join, I
wonder if more people might be inclined to do so. Though perhaps that
isn't such a good thing---there are currently 18 of us and that seems
to be about the right number to me.


R.M.O'Leary <robin nospam at> +44 973 310035  P.O. Box 20, Swansea SA2 8YB, U.K.