๐Ÿ“– flatcat paper

Our first paper with a jetpack affiliation, titled

flatcat – playful robots that respond to touch

has been published and is available on @ResearchGate

If you have ever wondered about the technical background of this unique robot, go read the full text on https://www.researchgate.net/publication/359083587_flatcat_–_playful_robots_that_respond_to_touch and don’t forget to leave us a recommendation if you like the paper.

This was an original contribution to the Workshop on Robot Curiosity in Human Robot Interaction (RCHRI), https://sites.google.com/view/rchri/home, organized as part of the ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction, https://humanrobotinteraction.org/2022/workshops/.

๐Ÿ“– A review of A thousand brains by Jeff Hawkins

Brains and nervous systems are the most exciting and truly weird topics to discover.

They can be approached through neuroscience, ethology, psychology, cognitive science, arts, brain-inspired computing, and bio-inspired robotics.

Or, even in some other ways. Easy, because our own brain and CNS is involved in all our perception and acquisition of knowledge. It is involved in everything we are and do. It is us, and it is bodily (somatic) all the way down. This is called embodiment.

If the 20th century has seen the emergence of non-classical theory in physics, it has also seen the beginnings of non-classical theory in, ultimately, biology. Biology as the basis and substrate of the majority of intelligent behavior we are observing, anywhere.

Anyway, bla bla. Just finished reading โ€œA thousand brainsโ€ by Jeff Hawkins, who you might know from Numenta, their papers, or from the earlier book โ€œA new kind of intelligenceโ€, which I havenโ€™t read.

The work presented and discussed in the book is about the human neocortex, its computational mechanics, and its principles of organization.

What the brain does, in general, is to create models of the world, which it then uses to make predictions and find ways (sequences of actions) to get to goals (usually related to survival, in the broad sense of the complicated lifeโ€™s of contemporary humans). This is called inverting a model.

In the book, the idea that these internal models donโ€™t come in singular, but rather in a massively large bundle, a huge flock of models, is expounded and illustrated in clear and fun prose, including some pictures.

One of the weirdest things about the brain is the modelling decomposition. Sorry. I just love that word so much.

What is decomposition? I donโ€™t mean the degenerative one. It is meant in the mathematical sense of decomposing something complex into a set of simpler things, together with an explanation of their interactions, so that the overall story will yield the original phenomenon.

Most of us will have an acquired and consciously accessible decomposition of the world in our heads, called a mindset. Usually thatโ€™s objects, persons, domains; interactions come via force and gravity, light, sound and touch, inner focus and sociality, etc;

So the cool thing that the brain does, is a) to decompose the world into a soup of models, and b), that this decomposition is mostly and unconsciously completely different and utterly alien to our own introspective thinking. It just doesnโ€™t align. No, it doesnโ€™t. The objects of conscious introspective thought are just the tip of the iceberg, of all unconscious mental and neural activity, not available to introspection.

One of the reasons that this is so is somatics, properties of a physical body that needs to compute in a physical universe, governed by energy equations, metabolics, and distribution networks. Limitation as a resource. Work that.

The story of the relationship between the subjective introspection experience of feeling and living, and objective neural mechanics is one of the most pressing issues in science communication.

Why? Because understanding our own behavior and decision mechanics is essential for our civilization to survive the 21st century. Period.

Hawkinsโ€™ book throws a lot of stepping stones out into our path through a foggy toxic lava swamp. Highly appreciated and recommended.

Go check on book home

Posted originally on dynatropes – mission log from climbing mount improbable. where you at?

๐Ÿ› the Special (Robot) Pet!

the Special (Robot) Pet!

What I love about Flatcat is that she reacts always differently to touch and her Environment! The funny little Sounds she made and her extremly soft feeling. In my Opinion she comes pretty close to a Bio Pet but is one of a kind, and not everyone owns a Flatcat so to me she is very Special ๐Ÿ™‚ Some don’t like how Flatcat looks like or that she is Creepy! I think it is a lot more important what is on the inside, just like with humans, where it is more Important how you are than how you look like. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Please watch that Video

Don’t be afraid of an Special (Robot)Pet

Thank you so much ๐Ÿ™‚

๐Ÿ› the friendliest robot in the world, pt1

We have built the friendliest robot in the world, and we need your support to make more of them.

In all the craze and frenzy, take a minute just for fun and google “friendliest robot in the world”. Don’t know what you will be seeing, but for me the results are remarkable, both in gem and dire. Let’s review this. What got me to this, is that I think with flatcat we have created

1/ the friendliest robot on the planet (frop)

It might be creepy to some but it is just friendly nonetheless, no matter. To celebrate, let’s come up with an appropriate retronym for flatcat, for example

2/ flatcat, friendliest live adaptive technology cuddly auto telic

Either way I needed to research existing claims in direction of “friendliest robot”. And what I get is essentially this: various lists of “top 12” and “most advanced” hard-shell social or humanoid robots exempt the revered Paro; direct references to Blue, Pepper, and Kuri; and one IEEEspectrum article.

What is friendliness and affection without touch as a mode of communication? From all I can see, none of these robots is able to actually touch a human person. If they are, no one wants to be touched by them. So they might be “able” to touch a human but that might not feel so good for the human. flatcat communicates with people only by touch, nothing else.

What caught my eye on the other hand immediately is Gakutensoku, ๅญธๅคฉๅ‰‡, which is Japanese for “learning from the laws of nature” or when taken as Chinese through deepl.com, “Learning the Rules of Heaven”. Aha ๐Ÿ™‚

3/ Gakutensoku

Gakutensoku was a very early robot design that considered friendliness on a fundamental level, done by biologist Makoto Nishimura, who was motivated by his shock from seeing Karel Capek’s theater play “Rossum’s Universal Robots”. Gakutensoku appears to have been Japan’s first functional robot ever, as a side effect.

The robot he wanted to build would celebrate nature and humanity, and rather than a slave, it would be a friend, and even an inspirational model, to people.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gakutensoku

To summarize these results, friendly robots are few because somehow no one is incentivized to make them. If they are made, friendly companionship is somewhat misunderstood through the severe disconnection of mainstream engineering from simple facts of human psychology. And, there is a very early precedent, which is coming from a clearly bio-inspired thinking.

For us, friendly robots are just the answer, and we do think that friendly adaptive technology makes a difference for people now, and will do so even more down the road if they are wild and friendly. To continue this mission, we need your support and are looking for team members and funding. Give us a shout, spread the word!

Learning the rules of heaven.

Sources

๐Ÿ› flatcat shipping started ๐Ÿš€

we

just

shipped ๐Ÿ›ซ โ™ป๏ธ

the first 3๏ธโƒฃ flatcats

๐Ÿ› ๐Ÿ› ๐Ÿ›

ever

mega happy having shipped first ๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ› flatcat robots

most startups are in software

most startups never ship

we are a ecologically-minded two-tech-founders full-stack hardware-software AI-robotics company 100%-founder-owned and calling from #Berlin

Holler If Ya Hear Me โ™ป

Above all, infinite thanks to everyone who has so greatly supported us in this project. without you, this would not have been possible.

All our Kickstarter and Indiegogo backers, @qbernetik @o2 @__tosh wendelin weingartner, @zzkt @foam @hiaz @juliarehling, @evanackerman, @sansculotte, arglaaa, heike nehl, Andrew Liszewski, the berthold estate, karen ellmer, elle janssen, richard lem, marek claassen, tbc and shout out if we missed you

โœจ jetpack updates 13

๐Ÿ› flatcat

Important update regarding shipping

tl;dr Shipping has to be delayed by at least one month.

While we are busy all week pushing things ahead, we have come to run behind our planned schedule. There is two main reasons for this. The first one is big changes in both our personal lifes that require urgent attention. The second one is that we are beginning to feel the accumulated sum of small friction losses in sourcing as well as more administrative outside interactions.

Thus we have to update the timeline and push back the expected date for beginning to ship by one month to end of October 2021.

We do have four major tickets open before we can do that, which are assembly, furs, software updates, and packaging. Right now we are actively working on the first three of them. Packaging is still in the back row because we first need the set of shipped items to consolidate before it makes sense to design a packaging.

assembly




fur

flatcat UI

Here’s a first screenshot of how the update and configuration app could look like. Development is done in collaboration with Richard of mr. hide.

๐Ÿ‘˜ cognition wear

All three base colors for the jetpack sweater successfully prototyped and ready to be made in batch and brought to the street.

Campaign duration extended to end on October 11, 2021 11:59pm PDT

Delivery option pick-up-at-lab which has been requested cannot be added to claimed perks – please pledge for delivery to Germany and we will refund you when you pick up your items.

Thanks for looking, jet pack

โœจ jetpack updates 12 ๐Ÿ› flatcat ๐Ÿชฒ Bakiwi workshop ๐Ÿ‘˜ cognition wear

Hi all, dumping a stack of updates from the last few days

flatcat PCBs in the house

The manufactured PCBs for sensorimotor & energymodule arrived at the lab yesterday. This lead to the first run of component placement and baking in the oven today, to obtain the fully assembled electronics boards required for making a flatcat. This seemed to have worked reasonably well and the first sensorimotor was put into operation successfully.


flatcat furs

Another fur has arrived this week from the prototyping done by our collaborator Karen Ellmer. The amount of available fake fur materials is pretty stunning. Right now we are working with a selection from the samples we have, to find a minimal functional design that we can ship with. Something that feels amazing and allows the cat to move freely.


Bakiwi workshop Sept 2021

The first Bakiwi workshop after lockdown took place on Saturday, quite successfully with nine (9) Bakiwis walking out the door on their own for nine teams of builders. It was great to have all of you and we hope you enjoyed as much as we did. To be done again, watch out for upcoming dates.

These are two examples of RTFM

We had a baby rat (some say it was a mouse) coming in for a visit. It then had to be removed from the premises via this contraption.


jetpack cognition wear

Our apparel campaign is coming along quite well, and like all that we do, subject to heavy development on the go. We now have demonstration exemplars for all three base colors. This is the black one, the lilac one will be posted soon.

But then taste this full use case as a robot pet holder, observed recently outside our lab.

For those of you who having one of the shirts, here is the true samples for the shirt’s base color. The jetpack tee two there is all of them in sizes S, M, L (limited quantities). For the direct-to-garment corporate insignia prints, we will only do anthracite and white. Go check.


Random stuff

We installed open graph and Twitter card plugins for our wordpress so social sharing is much improved with nice automatic summary previews.

Thank you, that’s it for today. As always, feel free to be in touch about your questions and comments, we hear you.

Cheers, opt + kubi @jetpack central ๐Ÿ’ฎ๐ŸŽด๐ŸŒธ

๐Ÿ› This thing is a robot, name flatcat, and does – nothing โ‚

Very nice piece in German on Heise by Hans-Arthur Marsiske on robots as play companions. The article is part of a series on robots in everyday life and titled Robots in everyday life: The playmate. We are very excited to see flatcat discussed extensively including a video interview with Jetpack founder / CTO Matthias Kubisch, among coverage of Playful machines by Ralf Der ad Georg Martius, as well as a good sample of other playmate robots available on the market. In relation, this highlights the unique approach and character of flatcat within the larger robotics ecosystem.

Quoting as a teaser

This thing is a robot, is called Flatcat and does – nothing: It just wants to play. It is not capable of doing anything else at all. Its developers at Jetpack Cognition Lab, a Berlin-based company founded in 2019, have not equipped it with displays or other means of data input, nor with visual or auditory sensors. Flatcat only perceives forces acting on it, reacts to them and gradually develops a behavior from these experiences.

Anyone who brings this techno-pet into their home or laboratory will have the opportunity to follow the development of its thinking ability and thus of an artificial personality up close and in real time – just like a biological pet.

Hans-Arthur Marsiske, Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

Recommended, thanks.

๐Ÿ› flatcat updates and more

Another day, another overdue update. What is happening at Jetpack Cognition Lab since we last wrote?

Main prototype flatcat2 is running smoothly on the new energy module for days. Last week we ordered the Lipo batteries to be used in your flatcats. They are standard cells (18650) that can be easily replaced in case of a battery failing. In the house already.

Box of 18650 batteries, three for each flatcat

Same goes for the motors, order has been placed with the manufacturer and we are waiting for the shipment, expected to arrive in a few weeks.

Development currently focuses on extending the basic behavior we have right now with more elaborate exploration algorithms which will lead to more diverse episodes of different things it does.

What started to impinge on us as a flickering halo quickly turned into a full out real global phenomenon, driven by our ~friends~ of #automotive: a global semiconductor shortage. For several flatcat related PCB designs we could not acquire the required chips and packages anymore. Too bad, so we turned forward and redesigned the boards to accommodate available packages. These will be sent to manufacture soon and comprise the last big chunk of supplies we need before we can finish the hardware aka flatcat chassis. This is how we roll.

Sensorimotor PCB with new chip package visible at the far end
Sensorimotor PCB with new chip package visible at the far end
Multiple sensorimotor PCBs lined up for further processing
Multiple sensorimotor PCBs lined up for further processing

The flatcat endurance poster is WIP and we will at some point come back with this specifically to get your early feedback on a few design variations.

On tangential notes, we had a TV crew in the house last week for shooting an episode to be included in the “Einfach genial” (Simply genius) format of German public channel MDR. The piece is going to be aired September upwards, keep you posted when it’s hot.

No one took a photo on the day ๐Ÿฅถ have to use this one instead

A new application for flatcat was discovered recently in the lab, which is realtime control of musical parameters through the force sensitive interface that the robot is. Here, we are sending 2 x 4 state variables from the joints to a digital sysnthesizer using OpenSoundControl. It works very well and was used in a public performance at the legendary and exclusive NNOI festival an hour north of Berlin on the weekend July 2-4, 2021.

Finally, if you want to read more, we have a fresh piece of techno-philosophy posted on the blog here.

Always love to have your feedback and learn what you are up to.

Read on Mailchimp | Read on Kickstarter

flatcat. development white paper.

your next robot is a desktop research robot

Why flatcat?

We believe that modern robotics/AI needs a boost from the bottom, to take another two to three steps back and take the time to close the sensorimotor gap and look intensively at learning procedures before moving on to higher function such as assistance for humans.

That’s why we developed flatcat as an open, extremely simplified platform from the ground up to enable people from different scientific and research fields, as well as developers and engineers, to develop their own applications or solve research questions with a real robot. flatcat is designed to be inexpensive and highly simplified, making it accessible to many.

How flat?

flatcat is open-source in hardware, firmware and software. The circuits are just as studiable and expandable as the software. The mechanics are made of 3D-printed parts and can therefore be repaired and adapted over and over again. We use readily available off-the-shelf components as much as possible to ensure parts availability. The design is modular and expandable, e. g. more joints, different motors, new controllers, more sensors etc. The mechanics is portable and lightweight, i. e. results can be presented live, mobile use is possible, etc. The motion dimension of flatcat is 2-dimensional and the reduced complexity is initially very convenient for many problems, the robot can be maintained and operated by one person, (desktop research robot).

Spec flat

flatcat provides a Python/C++ interface for the development of applications. The host platform is a Raspberry Pi (Zero/W) with WiFi module which drives the motors via a symmetric, i. e. insensitive data bus (RS-485, 1MBaud).

The power supply can be 6-12V, the internal battery is a 2-cell lithium polymer battery with 7.4V nominal voltage (6.6 – 8.4V, low to high). A stationary power supply can also be connected.

The motor controllers are a Jetpack open-source development: called Sensorimotor. They have rich sensory feedback (bidirectional current, supply voltage, temperature, 300ยฐ position, and speed) and provide various control modes such as position PID and Cognitive Sensorimotor Loops (CSL). The motors can also be used for simple sound generation (Beta).