jetpack story mini

for several big global problems (humane elderly care, regenerative agriculture, cleaning up the garbage planet) we need really cool robots that are cheap. for this they have to be able to learn properly. this is difficult but we (as a community) know how to do it. everything we do is for the plan to build cool self-learning robots that you really want to hang out with and that don't need help all the time :)
fĂŒr mehrere grosse globale probleme (humane altenpflege, regenerative landwirtschaft, mĂŒllplanet aufrĂ€umen) brauchen wir richtig coole roboter die billig sind. dafĂŒr mĂŒssen sie richtig gut lernen können. das ist schwierig aber wir (als community) wissen wie es geht. alles was wir machen dient dem plan, coole selbstlernende roboter zu bauen, mit denen man auch wirklich abhĂ€ngen möchte und die nicht andauernd selber hilfe brauchen :)

Bakiwi Workshops in Berlin

Please find an English version below.

Liebe Bakiwifans,

Danke fĂŒr Eure zahlreichen Nachfragen, endlich ist es soweit:

Wir machen wieder Bakiwi-Workshops \o/

Wenn Ihr Lust habt, Euren ersten Laufroboter selbst zu bauen, inklusive Löten lernen, dann holt Euch Euer Ticket fĂŒr eine der vier Workshop-Sessions in Berlin-Friedrichshain am 6. oder 7. August.

Im Workshop lernt Ihr, wie Ihr Euren Bakiwi-Laufroboter lötet und zusammenbaut und wie Ihr immer wieder neue Roboter-Beine erfinden könnt. Ihr dekoriert Euren Roboter mit Hilfe der bereitgestellten Materialien individuell und am Ende der Session können alle Teilnehmenden ihre Kreationen prĂ€sentieren und die Roboter gemeinsam laufen, hĂŒpfen und tanzen lassen.

Dieser Workshop ist fĂŒr Junggebliebene, fĂŒr Neugierige und fĂŒr Kinder ab 7 Jahren. FĂŒr den Workshop sind keine besonderen Vorkenntnisse erforderlich. Kinder unter 12 Jahren mĂŒssen von einer erwachsenen Person (z.B. Tante oder Opa) begleitet werden.

Ein Lötkolben und alle Werkzeuge, die Ihr zum Bau Eures Roboters benötigt, werden von uns zur VerfĂŒgung gestellt. Ihr mĂŒsst nichts mitbringen, außer Spaß und Neugier. Gerne könnt Ihr aber auch eigene Bastel- oder Upcycling-Materialien fĂŒr Roboterbeine und Dekorationen mitbringen.

Die Workshops finden in Berlin-Friedrichshain statt, den aktuellen Veranstaltungsort und die Termine entnehmt Ihr bitte der Ticketseite. Unsere Vormittags-Session beginnt um 10 Uhr und die Nachmittags-Session beginnt um 15 Uhr. Der Workshop dauert ca. 3-4 Stunden.

Wir freuen uns auf Euch!
Liebe GrĂŒĂŸe
Oswald und Matthias von Jetpack



Dear Bakiwi fans, thanks for your numerous request, finally it’s happening:

We’re doing Bakiwi workshops again \o/

If you’re keen on building your first walking robot yourself, including learning to solder, then get your ticket for one of the four workshop sessions in Berlin-Friedrichshain on August 6th and 7th.

At the workshop, you will learn how to solder and assemble your Bakiwi walking robot and all the different ways to create new legs over and over again. You will individually decorate your robot with the help of the provided materials and at the end of the session, all participants can present their creations and let the robots run, hop and dance together.

This workshop is for the young at heart, for the curious, and for children from 7 years. The workshop is beginner-friendly. No previous knowledge is necessary. Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult (e.g. aunt or grandpa)

The workshops will take place in Berlin-Friedrichshain, please find the actual location and dates on the ticket site. Our morning session starts at 10 a.m. and the afternoon session starts at 3 p.m. The workshop lasts around 3-4 hours.

A soldering iron and all the tools needed to build your robot are provided by us. You don’t have to bring anything with you, except fun and curiosity. You are welcome to bring your own handicraft or upcycling materials for robot legs and decorations.

We look forward to you!
Kind regards
Oswald and Matthias from Jetpack

🧠 Russian teddies and Martian cats

Turns out, we are huge fans of Simon StĂ„lenhag for his highly imaginative and gripping visual and narrative universe. Most recent addition to our collection is “Things from the flood“, an illustrated novel from 2016, set to take place after the closing of the loop, an advanced research facility playing the lead in the preceding book “Tales from the loop“.

One particular page struck me as highly relevant to what we’re trying to achieve with our work at Jetpack Cognition Lab. It is reproduced below as a testimony, a mini-episode titled “The Russian Teddy”.

The episode contains a few elements that are real and worth a closer look. There is the notion of trashy AI-ware which leads to an overall expectation of a simulation of a personality, rather than a true character of a robot. There is the aspect of asymmetry in regulations across different regions and markets, leading to an inflow of dark imports from less regulated domains to more regulated ones. Market physics, yes. Thirdly, there is the desire of the human kid to go to the end and find out whether the robot’s behavior is really only simulated, or if there is something underneath overt behavior, which comes closer to the singular existential experience we, and all other biological life claim to have, coming out regularly when threatened with death by external agenthood.

To us, as the roboticists and general life-embracing creatives we are, this is precisely antithetic, a negative example, a scenario that we would like to avoid, and that we think we know how to avoid. It is the reason why we insist that robots need to be strongly grounded in the most basic perceptions upwards for everything they do, and be functionally honest. That means, that robots shouldn’t pretend to have spoken language competence, for example, when they don’t have a lot of many more basic audio-motor skills, that humans and animals do have. The basic skills in this example would be awareness of sound sources, their locations, the fundamental characteristics of a sound source, like something dangling in the wind, a machine whirring, or an animal or human doing some activity, up to distinguishing between a non-word utterance and spoken language proper. This is just to name a few. All of our own perceptions, especially those that enter the conscious mind, are always based on literally thousands of subordinate cues. This is not a bug, this is a feature. It is what makes our perceptions so incredibly robust, for all practical purposes (fapp).

Our hypothesis here is, that machines built in such a way, and only such machines, will get close enough to an appropriate behavior because there will be plenty of micro-cues and preceding evidence for the development of a situation, allowing it to understand and change its behavior long before any irreversible escalation.

The “Russian Teddies” were cuddly toys equipped with simple AI chips and a voice module. They were supposed to be able to talk to you, and they were supposed to at least appear to have a personality. In Sweden, AI chips were banned for commercial use, and most AI electronics were smuggled in from Russia, which apparently had a different view of artificial intelligence and artificial life.

Simon Stalenhag, Things from the flood, translated with deepl.com from German edition, page 22

Die »russischen Teddys« waren mit simplen AI-Chips und Sprachmodul ausgestattete Kuscheltiere. Man sollte sich mit ihnen unterhalten können, und sie sollten zumindest den Anschein erwecken, eine Persönlichkeit zu haben. In Schweden waren AI-Chips fĂŒr den kommerziellen Gebrauch verboten, und die meiste AI-Elektronik wurde aus Russland eingeschleust, wo man offenbar eine andere Meinung zu kĂŒnstlicher Intelligenz und kĂŒnstlichem Leben vertrat.

Simon Stalenhag, Things from the flood, German edition, page 22

🐛 This thing is a robot, name flatcat, and does – nothing ⁂

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.

🐛 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 đŸ„¶ 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

⁂ Computational ethology – Who we are and what we do

We have been building autonomous machines for over twenty years and have become scientists on a mission to communicate. Our disciplines are computer science, psychology, biology, neuroscience, physics, art. Our subject is behavior.

What is behavior? Everything we do is behavior. We, as in humans, people, robots, and so on. Everything every animal ever does is behavior. Finding your way through the city is behavior, lifting a glass to drink is behavior, washing, talking, scratching yourself, building a house, etc. You get the picture.

How does behavior come about? How is behavior changed and adapted when the circumstances change? How do animals learn when there is no text book? How can self-learning robots benefit from this knowledge? Which behavior is more intelligent than another behavior?

Then, what is artificial intelligence, AI? Well, the A is trivial and we are stuck with “what is I?”.

Intelligence depends on the context. The deep sea is a different context than urban sprawl. A spaceship’s atmosphere (like earth) with little CO2 in it is a different context than one with a lot of CO2 in it. Depending on the premise the same behavior is more or less intelligent.

Intelligence includes the capacity to change behavior. This is itself a behavior. First to find out in which way it should be changed, and then, yeah .. changing it! For this you need motivation, curiosity, playfulness, exploration, creativity, problem solving.

The are two big social-economic questions. The first one is, what is our relationship with nature. The other one is, what’s our relationship with our self. The science of intelligence can contribute here with insights based on quantitative methods. Because, hurray, it turns out that not a single one of our decisions comes about in the way we thought it does, historically. The introspective perception available to everyone’s conscious experience is largely wrong, or
misleading.

To really get ahead, we need to get more people onto the science of adaptive behavior.

For this we choose approachability on purpose, much in contrast to almost any other style chosen by our competition, and established institutions in the field. This is realized through simplicity, absurdity, and softness. Pet-like robots and synthetic animals.

This provides the perfect playground for fully embodied learning on a given body with all its individual peculiarities. Get behavior grounded in self-perception. Honest machines have more fun.

Looking forward to meeting you on the way.

flatcat, der gruseligste Roboter aller Zeiten, ist nur noch sieben Tage auf Kickstarter

Presseinformation, Berlin, 14. Mai 2021

Entweder haben Sie schon eins, oder Sie werden bald eins haben. Roboterhaustiere erobern die VerbrauchermĂ€rkte weltweit in Form von Babyrobben, Hundewelpen oder einem schwanzwedelnden Kissen. Jetzt bekommen sie Gesellschaft von einer ĂŒberfahrenen Katze.

flatcat wurde von Gizmodo ((https://gizmodo.com/the-flatcat-cant-even-walk-but-its-instantly-the-creep-1846366550)) als “der gruseligste Roboter, den man je gesehen hat” betitelt, und das mag fĂŒr einige tatsĂ€chlich so sein. FĂŒr viele andere ist es ein zugegebenermaßen seltsames, aber niedliches Roboter-Haustier, das sie umarmen und mit dem sie spielen wollen.

Die ersten paar Flatcats sind ab sofort und nur noch sieben Tage lang auf Kickstarter ((https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/bakiwi/flatcat), der beliebtesten Crowdfunding-Website, erhÀltlich. Die Kampagne steht kurz vor der Vollfinanzierung, braucht aber noch ein paar entscheidende Zusagen von Roboter-Enthusiasten aus nah und fern, die etwas bewegen wollen.

Der Roboter, der von Jetpack Cognition Lab , einem in Berlin ansĂ€ssigen Unternehmen mit Grazer Wurzeln entwickelt und hergestellt wird, ist ein Roboter der neuen Art. Er ist völlig anders als alle anderen vergleichbaren Produkte auf dem Markt. Was ihn einzigartig macht, ist seine sensomotorische Kompetenz, die KrĂ€fte seiner eigenen Bewegung und die von außen durch Menschen oder einfach durch die Schwerkraft erzeugten KrĂ€fte zu spĂŒren und darauf zu reagieren.

Die FĂ€higkeit, KrĂ€fte direkt in den Gelenken zu spĂŒren, erlaubt es Flatcat, neugierig zu sein und seinen eigenen Körper und die Welt auf die sicherste Art und Weise zu erkunden. Die Technologie dafĂŒr kommt aus dem Forschungsfeld der Entwicklungsrobotik, bei dem Teile der Entwicklung von Tieren und Menschen in Software und Algorithmen umgesetzt werden.

Mögliche Verwendungszwecke von flatcat sind als Haustier im Wohnzimmer, um einfach zu spielen und gemeinsam die Welt der sensomotorischen Erfahrung und Bewegung zu erkunden; als therapeutischer Roboter, um sanft einfache Bewegungen zu stimulieren, Gesellschaft und Trost zu spenden; oder als Desktop-Forschungs-Roboter fĂŒr Wissenschaftler und Hacker:innen gleichermaßen, da er neben seiner hochmodernen sensomotorischen SensibilitĂ€t auch Open Source, erweiterbar und modifizierbar ist.

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Über Jetpack Cognition Lab

Seit seinen AnfĂ€ngen im Jahr 2019 bringt Jetpack Cognition Lab radikale Innovationen aus der wissenschaftlichen Forschung auf den Konsumentenmarkt. Die GrĂŒnder des Labs sind Dr. Oswald Berthold und Matthias Kubisch. Sie lernten sich wĂ€hrend ihres Studiums an der Humboldt-UniversitĂ€t zu Berlin kennen und taten sich zusammen, um die schrĂ€gsten und lustigsten Roboter der Welt zu entwickeln.

Berthold ist ein in österreichischer KĂŒnstler-Technologe, geboren in Graz, der schon mit dem Kollektiv farmersmanual Musikgeschichte geschrieben hat, indem er neuartige Stile und innovative AnsĂ€tze zur digitalen Musikproduktion und -veröffentlichung im Internetzeitalter einfĂŒhrte. SpĂ€testens seit er 2018 seine Promotion in Robotik innerhalb der Adaptive Systems Group der HU Berlin abgeschlossen hat, ist er damit beschĂ€ftigt, Grundlagenforschung in Kundennutzen zu verwandeln.

Kubisch ist ein deutscher Informatiker, Kreativer und Aktivist. Er hat als wesentliches Mitglied des Teams gearbeitet, das den modularen humanoiden Roboter Myon im ALEAR-Projekt unter der Leitung von Dr. Manfred Hild entwickelt hat. Außerdem hat er die Industrie von innen gesehen und Algorithmen zur Steuerung von elektrischen Kraftwerken entwickelt. Er ist nicht nur ein Experte fĂŒr adaptive Echtzeitalgorithmen und maschinelles Lernen, sondern auch ein genialer Elektronikdesigner und ProduktvisionĂ€r.

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flatcat main pic, flat on sofa
flatcat crowd of three with three different fur colors

flatcat, the creepiest robot ever, is on Kickstarter for only seven more days

Press release, May 14 2021

You either have one already, you are going to have one soon. Robot pets are taking to consumer markets worldwide in the shapes of baby seals, dog puppies, or a tail-wagging cushion. Now they are getting company by an overrun cat.

flatcat has been titled “the creepiest robot ever seen” by Gizmodo and that may indeed be so for some. For many others, it is an admittedly strange yet cute robotic pet, which they want to hug and play with.

The first few flatcats are available right now for the first time, and only for seven more days, on Kickstarter, the most popular crowdfunding website. The campaign is close to being fully funded, but does need a few more and decisive pledges by robot enthusiasts near and far, who like to make a difference.

The robot, designed and manufactured by Berlin based Jetpack Cognition Lab, is one of a new kind. It is entirely different from all other comparable products on the market. What makes it unique is its sensorimotor competence, the ability to feel, and react to the forces of its own motion, and those created on the outside by humans or simply by gravity.

The ability to feel forces directly in its joints allows flatcat to be curious and explore its own body and the world in the safest way possible. The technology for doing that is coming from a research field called developmental robotics, where parts of the development of animals and humans are put into software and algorithms.

Possible uses of flatcat are as a living room pet to simply play with and jointly explore the world of sensorimotor experience and motion; as a therapeutic robot to gently stimulate simple motions, provide company and comfort; or as a desktop research robot for scientists and hackers alike, by being open source, extensible and modifiable in addition to its cutting edge sensorimotor sensitivity.

Links and videos

About Jetpack Cognition Lab

Since its beginnings in 2019, Jetpack Cognition Lab is pushing radical innovations from scientific research onto the consumer market. The founders of the lab are Dr. Oswald Berthold and Matthias Kubisch. They met during their studies at Humboldt-UniversitĂ€t zu Berlin, and teamed up to create the weirdest and funniest robots alive.

Berthold is an Austrian artist-technologist, born in Graz, and has previously written music history with the farmersmanual collective by introducing novel styles and innovative approaches to digital music production and publishing in the internet age. Since finishing his doctorate in robotics with the Adaptive Systems Group of HU Berlin in 2018, he is busy turning fundamental research into customer value.

Kubisch is a German computer scientist, creative and activist. He has worked as an essential member of the team that created the Myon modular humanoid robot in the ALEAR project led by Dr. Manfred Hild. Also he has seen industry from the inside developing electrical power plant control algorithms. On top of being an expert on realtime adaptive algorithms and machine learning, he is an ingenious electronics designer and product visionary.

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The flatcat crowdfunding has started 🎉

Dear all,

it took a while, thank you very much for your patience. No long paragraphs today. In short: The crowdfunding is open. đŸŒ±

Now it’s your turn, hit the link below and help us build flatcats!

Your choice is simple. 1) Get one of the first limited edition flatcats and contribute with your user feedback and ideas to flatcat’s future development or 2) hold out a little longer and support us financially so we can produce flatcats in larger quantities later at a more affordable price. In return you will get a double-sided folding poster with flatcat design sketches, construction plans and high-res photos.

And as always, your feedback is very important to us.

We count on you: Now head over to the Crowdfunding page.

Best regards and see you soon on Kickstarter

opt + kubi + the jetpack team