By Garland Davis
I found a show on TV that fascinates me. It is titled Battlebots. They have these cool remote controlled things with hammers, saws, spinning drums, and arms as weapons. They release two of them into an arena and the try to dismantle each other. I was thinking, “I’m gonna build me one of these mothers.”
Then it occurred to me that this isn’t such a good idea. My past and recent experiences with electricity haven’t been so great. I can still change TV channels by twitching my eye. Suddenly I devised a method to build myself a Battlebot.
Three years ago, I bought a Roomba robot vacuum cleaner when my wife was in Japan visiting her family. I would activate it when I woke up and again before I went to bed. The floors were clean and I didn’t have to drag that vacuum around the house. The Roomba gave me time for more constructive tasks such as restocking the reefer with Bud Light. (I used to have an occasional beer in those days). I had most of them on the occasion of my wife being out of the country.
My wife didn’t like it! Especially after I left for Branson to attend the Asia Sailors reunion and preprogrammed it to start at 10 AM each day. It drove her nuts, which was my intent when I programmed it. I figured out why she doesn’t like it. She can’t control the damned thing. Also, she lost it. It started one morning and disappeared. It has a feature that when it gets stuck it will ask for help and then shut down. I came back from Branson and she told me it was gone. I searched the house for two days and finally found it under the recliner.
To get back to the story of Battlebots, I decided to convert the Roomba to a Bot. To beef it up, I built a framework of angle iron and sheet metal to protect it. This added considerably to the weight. In initial tests, the battery depleted very fast. So, I ordered three replacement batteries and rigged them into the power system. I had an old chop saw that I modified and attached as a weapon. I added three more batteries to the series to meet power requirements. The Roomba has a rudimentary guidance system but I needed a system I could control remotely.
A kid down the street has several remote controlled cars and planes. I asked for his help. He gave me a hand held remote and the “brain” that is installed in the vehicle. He also gave me a memory chip and motion sensors to increase reaction times. Unknowingly the chip had part of an “Artificial Intelligence” program he was trying to adapt to his remote controlled drones to give them more autonomy.
Finally, after weeks of preparation, the Bot was ready for testing. I set up an old metal trash can in my garage to test the Bot’s ferocity. I placed Metal Roomby (The name I gave it) on the floor and activated it. I pushed the control to move it toward the trash can. Roomby spun around and viciously attacked a broom standing in the corner. After reducing the broom to splinters, it attacked and dismembered the garage vacuum. It then crashed into the wall until a dustpan and foxtail fell from the hook on which they were hanging and reduced them to splinters. It looked as if Roomby was trying to eliminate the competition. It then spent the next twenty minutes sweeping up all the debris it had created and came to me and stopped. It was almost as it were begging to be emptied.
I pushed the button to turn it off. Not only did it not shut down, it growled at me! I threw a whisk broom into the center of the garage and while it was disposing of that, I unplugged the recharger unit and ran into the house.
Evidently the AI program had corrupted the brain of the Roomba.
It just sat there in the middle of the garage watching the back door. Every few days I threw a brush into the garage, hoping that it was discharged. I was afraid to let my wife vacuum. With that saw, Roomby could come right through the wall if it heard the vacuum cleaner.
I could not go into the garage for a few days. It was pissed at me for taking its charging pad. I think it is possessed. I don’t know how it is recharges itself.
A city street sweeper came by cleaning the street yesterday. Roomy went to the curb and sat almost as if it were in awe. The last time I saw Roomy it was following the street sweeper down the street sweeping the curb behind it. Roomy took with itself my desire to own a fighting robot.
On a positive note, I have the cleanest garage in town. Roomy swept up three time a day…