Robots: First three-foot-tall robot that looks like the BTC unicycle robot. It must move around and...

...stand on only one wheel, have two arms, and glowing eyes.  It must be able to travel over all walkable terrain, hop up and down stairs (or at least use a stair's handrail and/or a person's hand to transverse the stairs), and get into and out of vehicles (from sports cars to limousines to tour buses).  It must follow the command person at a socially acceptable distance on that person's left side so when they both approach a door, the person can more easily open doors for both of them.  It must move when the command person moves and it must stop when the command person stops.  It must give and receive gentle hugs from young children, shake hands (when someone else extends out their hand in the way you would do to shake hands), and recognize and return waves.

The feminine version (glowing pink eyes, pink markings, and long eyelashes) of the robot must respond to the names "Tiffany" and "Tiffany Petite" whereas the masculine version (glowing baby blue eyes, baby blue markings, and no eyelashes) must respond to the names "Tom" and "Tom Handsome."  [The name of the artist who created the unicycle robot's looks is Tiffany Petitt and the feminine robot's name is meant to be a fun variation of her name.  The name for the masculine version is a fun variation of BTC Creator Jack Decker's pen name Thomas Hansen.]  The Tiffany version must have its voice sound like that of Tiffany Petitt and the Tom version must have a voice that sounds like that of a younger (tenor) voice of Jack Decker.  It must understand and do at least the following verbal commands: "Tiffany, please follow."; "Tiffany, stop."; "Tiffany, please come here."; "Tiffany, please go through." (for doorways when doors are opened); "Tiffany, wave to the crowd."; "Tiffany, say hello."; and "Tiffany, please get into the vehicle."  Naturally, the Tom version must respond to those commands starting with the word "Tom" instead of "Tiffany.
To win this challenge and all future challenges, Jack Decker must accept the robot and its upgrades and a "Tiffany" version must be made available free to Jack to use for his public appearances and use in any TV show he's part of.  Also, a "Tom" version of the robot must be made available free to Tiffany Petitt for her public appearances.  Jack retains all rights, trademarks, and patents to the robot and its design and programming [but, as far as these actual three-foot robots are concerned, this is more to insure what is developed doesn't hurt the public image of BTC.  Jack doesn't want any changes in the design of the body that differs from how it is presented here in the illustrations on BTC nor does he want any Tiffany/Tom robot to be programmed to hit someone, make obscene gestures, or such.  Make no mistake.  These unicycle robots are NOT what Jack thinks will be the robots that will eventually serve us humans in the future.  These three-foot robots are only meant as a fun engineering and programming challenge (namely getting the robots to move around and do things on only one wheel) to engineers and programmers (mainly college students majoring in engineering and/or programming) as well as something cool and attention-getting for Tiffany Petitt and Jack to take along with them on their public appearances.  It is for these reasons why this challenge is located in the Entertainment category.]  Any research lab in the world that would like to work on the robot need only ask for permission and give written, signed, and witnessed assurances to Jack on their intentions and their plans and, as long as those are acceptable to Jack, they will very likely be given permission to develop one of these robots for this challenge.  Jack will not charge any licensing fee or require any payment by such research labs for attempting to do this challenge.
[Jack Decker does plan to try to make/license a toy version of the Tiffany/Tom robots and use the profits to help finance a global publicity tour promoting BTC's challenges and possibly even pay for the production of a newsmagazine show about his Better Tomorrow Challenges.  But as far as Jack is concerned, that is separate from this challenge.  However, if a toy version of the Tiffany/Tom robot can be made to actually move around on one wheel, that might be made and sold to the public.  But, as of right now, Jack doesn't believe the mechanicals and computer for such could be miniaturized small and light enough to fit into a reasonably-sized toy (say one that is a foot tall) and, even if they could be, they would likely not be able to be made cheaply enough to be sold as toys for the average child.  Not that Jack believes such is impossible.  It is just that he's not holding his breath that it will happen.]
Additionally, to win this challenge (and Future Challenges #1 through #14), the program must include a learning algorithm, must transmit at least once per operational day what it has learned to the company that developed the program, and download updates from that central server.

Future Challenges: First Tiffany or Tom robots programmed to:

1) "Ham it up" for photographers whenever the robot sees a camera flash and receives permission to do so from the command person.  The robots will then do a series of serious and funny poses and doing them in a random order and even slight random variations of each pose.

2) Do a respectful Japanese bow to people who bow to it or when the robot is given the command to bow.  When someone bows to the robot, the robot orients itself to that person and returns the bow.  When given the command to bow, it must orient itself to the person (not the command person) that is closest and most directly in front of it at that time.

3) Give an animated speech about any of the BTC challenges when given the command to explain them.  When explaining this specific challenge, the robot is to use self-effacing humor.

4) Same as Future Challenge #3 but the robot must be able to give these explanations also in Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Danish, Finnish, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Klingon [for Star Trek conventions], Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, and Turkish.  [As Jack Decker, BTC's creator, hopes to do many public speeches about BTC, the robot being able to give such explanations in the native tongue of the audience can only help the cause.]

5) Give an animated opening hour-long speech about BTC for Jack Decker for when he's to give a dinner speech to a group.  The robot travels between the dining tables as it talks with its audio able to wirelessly connect into the room's PA system.  [This way Jack gets out of repeating the same speech over and over again and the audience will much prefer the robot giving it anyway.  Mr. Decker will then "merely" handle the following Q&A session with the audience during their dessert course and which is of interest to Jack as that is different each time.]

6) Do Future Challenge #5 in Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Danish, Finnish, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Klingon, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, and Turkish.  [Jack Decker will then likely use a human translator to help him do the following Q&A session during the dessert course.]

7) Sign its signature on the appropriate spot on photographs and illustrations of itself, especially the illustration used for the bottom of BTC's homepage as the robot and Tiffany both appear in that one.  [When Tiffany Petitt attends science fiction conventions, art fairs, comicbook conventions, and technology expositions, the Tom robot can then do a signing session together with her.  Attendees to these events will greatly enjoy seeing and photographing them doing so together.]

8) Manipulate the shape of its single wheel so that it can pinch steps and/or form fit a step, hold that form, and use it to pull itself up onto that step.  [This requires the development of a dynamic wheel that can control its shape and maintain that shape so the wheel "grips" steps.  One possible way the wheel could do so is if its spokes can be pulled in along with the tire of that part of the wheel thus enabling it to "pinch" a step or at least create crease in the tire which it can use as "hold" to pull itself up onto the step.  This will require the robot to scan steps that it is approaching and then morph its wheel in the spots that will be touching the steps' edges.

Another method would be changing the hardness of the part of the tire encountering a step's edge so it becomes soft enough to take in the step's edge, hardens to maintain that shape (thus using it as a "hold" point), and reverts back to its normal wheel shape after it is dealt with the step.]

First unicycle robot with a dynamic wheel (see Future Challenge #8) to be able to (from a dead stop, without use of a railing, and maintaining one's balance from beginning to end) drive up and down fifty 7-inch-high steps within:

9) 100 minutes.

10) An hour.

11) Half an hour.

12) 10 minutes.

13) 100 seconds.

14) 10 seconds.

If you would like to discuss this challenge with others, click here to go to this challenge's discussion forum.

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