ToyBots Manifesto!


Well, it’s about that time when it’s time to put pen to paper and lay out the manifesto for ToyBots! What began as a neat word association about a decade ago has now matured into something that is possible in the near term — and it’s pretty exciting. So, let me create a call-to-arms on what we mean when we say “ToyBots”

1. A ToyBot is a robot;

2. A ToyBot is a robot that follows Isaac Asimov‘s Three Laws of Robotics:

  • A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm;
  • A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law; and
  • A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

Let’s also add Asimov’s Zeroeth Law of Robotics:

  • A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.

While we’re at it, let’s also include:

Lyuben Dilov‘s Fourth Law of Robotics:

  • A robot must establish its identity as a robot in all cases.

Harry Harrison‘s Fourth Law of Robotics:

  • A robot must reproduce. As long as such reproduction does not interfere with the First or Second or Third Law.

Nikola Kesarovski‘s Fifth Law of Robotics:

  • A robot must know it is a robot.

And Hutan Ashrafian’s AlonIA Sixth Law of Robotics:

  • All robots endowed with comparable human reason and conscience should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

3. To all those Laws we now add Three New Laws of ToyRobotics (child defined as any human 2+ years in age):

  • A ToyBot must be easy-to-construct or disassemble by a child;
  • A ToyBot must behave as a the child would expect it to behave; and
  • A ToyBot must not be able to cause harm to a child.

And what is a ToyBot? It is:

An programmable robot composed of separate autonomous bricks that when joined together behave in new ways.

So, what do we think are the key components of a ToyBot? Here’s a partial list, for starters:

  1. Power supply — rechargeable solar so that the bulk and inconvenience of batteries is eliminated;
  2. Control System — a Kodu-like visual programming language, controllable from a mobile device and autonomously run from a “brain” in the ToyBot;
  3. Wireless System — for communication between the wireless device and the brain of the ToyBot;
  4. Flashers — million-color LEDs;
  5. Treads — rubber tank-like tread units;
  6. Wheels — solid rubber car-like mountable units;
  7. Grabbers — pincers that can be mounted to grab and move objects;
  8. Magnets — mountable for grabbing metal objects;
  9. Speaker — Internet-connected mp3 player; and
  10. Lifters — servo-powered limbs which can lift load.