When this Calgary-based roboticist built his own personal Wall-E, international media, Maker Faire, and Make Magazine found out and promptly had thousands of people asking Sures how they could build their own robots. He came up with the concept for his robot circuit board after a few too many beers, soldered hundreds of boards and created the software himself in his basement. EZ-Robot became a registered business on Nov. 27, 2011. All types, from 14-year-old kids and retirees who have never used computers to people at NASA and MIT have the kits. EZ-Robot's newest product lets you put together a robot that's as simple as clicking Lego-like parts together and turning on the software. Not bad for a guy from Thunder Bay who never graduated high school...
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When this Calgary-based roboticist built his own personal Wall-E, international media, Maker Faire and Make magazine found out and promptly had thousands of people asking Sures how they could build their own robots. He came up with the concept for his robot circuit board after a few too many beers, soldered hundreds of boards and created the software himself in his basement. EZ-Robot became a registered business on Nov. 27, 2011. All types, from 14-year-old kids and retirees who have never used computers to people at NASA and MIT have the kits. EZ-Robot's newest's product lets you put together a robot that's as simple as clicking Lego-like parts together and turning on the software. Not bad for a guy from Thunder Bay who never graduated high school.Early beginnings
"I was soldering when I was five. I could program a computer when I was in Grade 1. I built my first robot using a Pampers box when I was 10."
"My father was strict when it came to robotics. He had a box of diskettes and said that every time I wanted one to play a game on the computer, I had to write a program that demonstrated something. I liked writing code so much that I would just write my own games."
"My dream was to be able to talk to a robot or computer. The first time I got a computer to talk to me was in high school when I created an artificial intelligence program. I named it Synthia. She had a huge database of words that were learned from user input."
"The first robot I built using components I created was in 2006. He was based on K-9 from Doctor Who and built out of styrene. I spent a lot of time figuring out how to make sure he didn't get stuck in corners. He scanned his environment, found objects and recorded where he was using a very simple infrared detector."Spreading the robotic word
"In 2010, I was at my cabin with my grandfather, and he asked me to teach him how to build a robot. I thought that was impossible, and he said that if I want to change the world, I have to make it so everyone can build robots."
"Our original product shows people how to take toys apart and turn them into robots. You can load apps from our store and make your robot listen to voice commands, chase a red ball, follow your face - you can make it do all of those things, without having to know how to program."
"I think the cost of used toys on eBay has gone up because people are buying them to turn them into EZ-Robots."
"It is a challenge for some people to cut up a toy and make it into a robot, so our new product, called EZ-Robot Revolution, is modular. We manufacture a brain base, and you can add a tractor base, legs and arms, etc. The idea is that all these components clip together to create robots that can fly or walk, and everyone will know how to use it. It's like Lego on steroids."The robotic brain
"You can talk to your robot and ask it to wave or dance or lean left. You can tell it when to start listening and when to stop. You can do all of that from your computer or mobile device."
"The phrase 'There is an app for that' will turn into 'There is a robot for that.' People will be able to make robots do all sorts of things, because it is so easy."
"Artificial intelligence is a play on words. The concept of artificial intelligence is to appear intelligent without actually being intelligent. The challenge is that, if you are too perfect, you are not intelligent and, instead, are just a dictionary or an encyclopaedia. To be intelligent, you have to have some ability to be wrong or silly, but not too silly."
"Robots all have personalities. Personality is just a bunch of crossed wires in our head. Your personality is a bunch of quirks; that's what makes you unique and endearing. Computers need to have those crossed wires. Flaws in software will create the personality in the robot."Changing the world, one robot at a time
"Gaming will be much different than how it is now with kids sitting there with their consoles linked. Picture this: Downstairs, the kids make a maze for robots they have created to fly or walk through, or maybe attach lasers to them. Upstairs, the kids wear 3D glasses to see what their robot sees. They control the robots and score points on their screen."
"There are lots of useful industries for robots. We have one customer, a paraplegic, who added our software and hardware to his wheelchair so that now it is a robot wheelchair. Imagine your friend puts an image on the back of his jacket and the robot chair could follow it. Or that there are sensors on the side of the chair and it can self-correct as it goes down a hallway without bumping into things."
"Firefighters could sit in the back of the truck and control a robot as it goes through the rubble."
"To be able to point and click and make your robot do anything you want is too hard for people to believe. Our challenge is convincing customers that it is that easy."
"My goal is to have a robot walk up to me at the end of the day and ask how my day was."