Zaza FAQs



·        What are the functions of the red, green, and blue buttons?


At present, the red button stops and resets the robot, the green button starts the ‘wander’ demo, and the blue button does nothing (it is reserved for future expansion)


·        What does the robot do?


When the wander demo is running, the robot builds a map of the nearby objects it’s sensors ‘see’, and navigates around them while adding more objects to it’s map. If the sensors loose track of an object, the robot rapidly ‘forgets’ about them. The simplest explanation for the behavior of Zaza when running the ‘wander’ demo is that she is nearsighted and has a very short memory.


·        Does it just walk around?


Yes, the object of the wander demo is to wander around without bumping into things, conversing with any people she comes across.


·        Does it have sensors?


Yes, Zaza has 4 types of sensors:


The laser sensor scans the 180° area in front of the robot and is able to detect objects up to 164ft away. It has a 1° angular resolution, so it is very accurate.


The sonar sensors are situated around the perimeter of the robot’s enclosure, and can sense objects all around the robot. They can sense objects between 1.5ft and 30ft from the robot. The sensors have a 30° angular resolution, and are prone to ‘multipath interference’ where one sonar’s ‘ping’ is picked up by another sonar and yields inaccurate range information.


The IR sensors are situated at two levels on the robot’s perimeter. They can sense objects less than 20in from the robot. The sensors can detect a white object more accurately than a black object because the black object reflects much less IR light than the white object.


The tactile, or ‘bump’ sensors detect objects that the robot bumps into. This sensor is a failsafe if none of the other sensors detect an object. Each panel on the robot has two switches behind it that close when the panel is pressed in. 


·        Where are the sensors?


·        If no one or nothing is in its way does it just walk in a straight line?


If Zaza’s sensors detect an object far away and no other objects are in it’s way, the robot travels towards the object to ‘explore’ that area of the room to add more data to it’s map. If none of the sensors detect an object, the robot assumes nothing is there, and returns to an area where it last detected an object.


·        Can you give it directions?


At present, you cannot. The robot autonomously chooses where it wants to go.


·        Does it have voice recognition?


At present, no, but that is a feature we are considering.


·        Can it hear noises?


At present, it does not.


·        Do the cameras serve any purpose at all?


At present, the cameras stream video from them to the web, but are not used to help the robot detect obstacles. The pan-tilt device that the cameras are mounted on directs the cameras to point where the nearest person was detected.


·        Why is it able to walk on it’s own?


See answer to question 2.


·        What is the purpose of creating a robot like this one?


Most robots like Zaza are used by computer science and engineering researchers to explore techniques for navigation, mapping, and behavior-based software. Zaza is an ongoing project to inspire and help people learn about mobile robotics.


·        Who created this robot?


The company that built most of the robot’s hardware is RWI (Real World Interfaces). They were recently acquired by iRobot, and now sell an updated version of this robot (the B21r). Researchers at several universities developed the software that controls the robot. The largest single contributor is Professor Sebastian Thrun at Carnegie Mellon University. The ‘high leve’ control programs and face were developed by the Tech.


·        What will it be able to do in the future?


Zaza will be able to talk, follow people, know where it is, and even give tours! Do you have suggestions? Please contact us here and tell us what you think Zaza should do next!


·        What sort of chips does it have inside? How big?


Zaza has two dual-processor (Pentium Pro 200MHz) computers inside. One reads the sensors and controls the robot and is running Red Hat Linux. The other computer runs the face program and speech synthesis and runs Windows 2000 Professional Edition.


·        Will it fall off a cliff?


Unfortunately, yes! The ‘wander’ demo is not aware of dangerous obstacles such as stairs, escalators or cliffs. Please be nice to Zaza, and don’t let her fall down!


·        Can it hear me? Will it talk back?


Zaza currently cannot hear or respond do you, but  she will be able to speak to you in the near future.