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Re: [ox-en] robotics

Hi Rich

On 6 Mar 2003, Rich Walker wrote:

Rich Walker <rw> wrote:
[Background: I'm technical director of a small company. I'm also quite
passionate about things like GPL'd software, and I'm annoyed I have to
describe it as Open Source to lots of people - in fact, like mentioning
the Great Architect or the Invisible College served in a past age, I use
GPL as one of those "check the background" things to run past people]


I had a look at your website and was curious: 

Umm; some of the stuff on there is older than other stuff. 

as someone
passionate about the gpl you must have had discussions about open-sourcing
the designs and design process for robots. 

Yes; in fact, we spend time pushing this in the networks we're in. 

The philosophy page says your
target is eventually to be able to produce useful robots anyone can 
afford. Yet looking for details of the robots there are statements like 
'we cant say much about how this works because we're applying for 

As far as I know, no-one has yet said that patents on mechanical
engineering are a bad thing. No-one seems to be up in arms about
hardware patents. This is for a good reason - if you want to find
someone to bring a physical object (for which production costs are
substantial) to market, then the object should be protected in such a
way that clones don't appear.

Otherwise, you could never persuade anyone to set up a manufacturing
outfit again.

Hence our viewpoint - we'll patent the ironware in order to be able to
make (enough) money to develop the rest of it. We have no real desire to
be a software company, and so Free software makes sense in that context.

It seems contradictory, but I guess you must have looked at
a more open design process as a route and decided it wouldn't work - I
wondered why? Would it would have made it impossible to raise funding?

We are working on a more open design process, at least in the areas of
electronics and software. We're also a member of CLAWAR (site currently
in hyperspace) a network developing open modular technology for robots,
amongst other things. Hopefully, we should be publishing some of our
software and hardware design work later this month - masochistic
alpha-testers (with hardware construction experience) wanted.

So, the answer is, it's happening slowly.


cheers, Rich.



rich walker | technical person | Shadow Robot Company | rw
front-of-tshirt space to let     251 Liverpool Road   |
                                 London  N1 1LX       | +UK 20 7700 2487

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