Funny Synchronicity

Posted by Chris on October 16th, 2007 filed in Uncategorized

The mail was stopped. That’s not interesting. What’s interesting is why it stopped. The mail machines here are basically giant versions of the line following robots as seen in Make and many other places. One way is to use an amplifier, and two sensors. The sensors feed the amplifier based on the strength of the light received. They amplify the side with the more powerful signal, moving it further away, etc. Here they use UV tape to create an invisible line. A blacklight illuminates the line and off it goes.

Well, they’re working on the bathrooms and as such working on the floor occassionally. Also, there are square pattern carpet pieces that you can lift up to get to the sub-floor. (On my floor there are exactly four of them rotated out of position between the escalators and the cube farm.)

So what happened? Someone worked on the sub floor, and when putting the carpet back rotated the squares. They happened to have invisible lines on them. The robot followed the line straight to them, saw the line that was rotated, turned towards the wall, and stopped after freaking out. Today, they’re redoing the lines to fix the problem – I wonder if they noticed the tiles…

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