Top critical review
17 people found this helpful
Overpriced and explains the obvious
on March 2, 2006
The only reason I am giving this book three stars is that no other serious publication I know of discusses behavior based robotics. However, that being said, this book uses a lot of pages and costs a lot of dollars to explain a rather simple concept. It is an elegant concept, and I do take my hat off to Mr. Arkin for getting to the heart of the matter clearly and with good illustrations. But is it a concept that requires almost 500 pages? I don't really think so. Simply put, behavior-based robotics does not use an internal model of its environment. For instance, there is no programming in the robot of what a chair looks like, or what kind of surface the robot is moving on - all the information is gleaned from the input of the robot's sensors. The robot uses that information to react to the changes in its environment as those changes occur. State machines are at the heart of the design of any behavior-based robot. For example, a foraging robot would probably have four states describing its behavior in response to its sensors: wandering and looking for food, picking up food, homing towards the nest, and avoiding obstacles.
This book is a very easy read, although at times it seems repetitive. It does not really require any particular technical background in order to understand it, although to really appreciate the concept you should already be familiar with robotic design concepts.
Some really good implementations of the concepts in this book are at a website authored by Craig Reynolds. To find it, type "Steering behaviors for autonomous characters" into Google, and it should be the first address listed. Mr. Reynolds' site has a paper on his extensions of behavior-based concepts, as well as some Java applets demonstrating his methods.