Title:
TARGETING SYSTEM FOR A ROBOT GAMING ENVIRONMENT
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Provided is a targeting system 10 for a robot gaming environment which includes a transmitter 12 on a target robot 16 and a directional receiver 14 on an attacking robot 18 which system 10 is able to ameliorate the accuracy of a firing means of the attacking robot 18. The receiver 14 includes a housing 24 which defines an elongate channel with an opening therein which allows the receiver 14 to only receive electromagnetic signals 20 from the transmitter 12 if the opening is pointed directly at the target robot 16.



Inventors:
Poolman, Johannes Petrus Jacobus (Pretoria, ZA)
Kunneke, Christian (Pretoria, ZA)
Application Number:
12/304676
Publication Date:
11/12/2009
Filing Date:
10/31/2006
Assignee:
ROBONICA (PROPRIETARY) LIMITED (Centurion, ZA)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/24
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
VO, PETER DUNG BA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
NELSON MULLINS RILEY & SCARBOROUGH LLP (BOSTON, MA, US)
Claims:
1. A targeting system for a robot gaming environment, said targeting system comprising, a transmitter mountable on a target robot, said transmitter configured to emit an electromagnetic signal, when activated, in a specific area about said robot; and a directional receiver mountable on an attacking robot, said receiver configured so that said receiver only detects the electromagnetic wave transmitted by said transmitter mounted on the target robot when said receiver is orientated towards the target robot, so that when the attacking robot is orientated at the target robot, the attacking robot is able to activate suitable firing means for engaging the target robot.

2. A system as claimed in claim 1, wherein the specific area in which the electromagnetic signal is transmitted about the target robot includes the entire area surrounding the robot.

3. A system as claimed in claim 1, wherein the specific area includes only a certain directional area alongside the robot.

4. A system as claimed in claim 1, wherein the receiver includes a suitable filter which only allows electromagnetic waves incident from a specific direction.

5. A system as claimed in claim 4, wherein the suitable filter includes a housing for housing the receiver, said housing further defines a channel with an opening which allows the electromagnetic signal to strike the receiver only when incident directly through such opening.

6. A system as claimed in claim 5, wherein the housing includes at least one slit in the channel to minimize reflections of the incident signal in the channel.

7. A system as claimed in claim 1, wherein the electromagnetic signal includes any wavelength in the electromagnetic spectrum.

8. A system as claimed in claim 1, wherein the electromagnetic signal is modulated to include information able to uniquely identify the transmitter.

9. A system as claimed in claim 1, wherein the firing means is configured to notify the target robot that the transmitted wave has been detected by the receiver on the attacking robot.

10. A system as claimed in claim 9, wherein the firing means includes a visual notification means in the form of a visible light emitter.

11. A system as claimed in claim 9, wherein the firing means includes an audio notification means.

12. A system as claimed in claim 9, wherein the firing means includes a transmitter for transmitting a notifying signal to the target robot.

13. A system as claimed in claim 9, wherein the firing means includes a ballistic firing mechanism for firing a missile at the target robot.

14. A system as claimed in claim 9, wherein the target robot includes a suitable receiver for registering engagement by the firing means.

15. A system as claimed in claim 9, wherein the receiver is configured to determine the distance between the target and attacking robots from analysing a characteristic of the received electromagnetic signal.

16. A system as claimed in claim 15, wherein the characteristic of the signal includes strength of the signal.

17. A system as claimed in claim 15, wherein the firing means is configured to engage the target robot only if the target robot is in range of the firing means.

18. (canceled)

19. (canceled)

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to robot gaming environments, in general, and specifically to a targeting system for use on robots participating in such an interactive robot gaming environment.

BACKGROUND TO THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a targeting system for use in a robot gaming environment where remote controlled and/or semi-autonomous toy robots are required to engage other toy robots by “shooting” them with different types of electromagnetic wave emitting toy guns. The system is typically accompanied by some kind of audible and/or visual feedback system in order to indicate a successful hit by these robots.

The known prior art firing systems suffer from inaccuracies inherent in the design of these systems, where accuracy is balanced against complexity and cost. The known systems typically make use of an attacking robot emitting a narrow-band beam towards a target robot, which registers a hit if the emitted beam strikes a suitable receiver on a target robot. The accuracy of these systems depends on a variety of factors, such as the configurations of the emitted beam, the location and sensitivity of the receiver on the target robot, and the like. The current invention proposes a possible novel and elegant solution allowing robots to target each other in a gaming environment.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is to be appreciated that the term “robot” generally refers to some mechanism, machine or similar device which includes some form of automation or sensors for performing functions automatically and independently, with limited or no human interference. These functions, in the context of a robot gaming environment, may include traversing a certain course, interacting with other mobile toy robots, and the like. In this specification, it is however to be appreciated that reference to the term “robot” includes reference to any mobile electronic toy possibly subject to human control irrespective of the level of autonomy involved, e.g. a radio controlled toy car, a radio controlled gaming robot, a stationary weapon turret, a gaming element in the gaming environment, or the like.

According to the invention there is provided a targeting system for a robot gaming environment, which targeting system includes

a transmitter mountable on a target robot, in use, which transmitter is configured to emit an electromagnetic signal, when activated, in a specific area about said robot; and

a directional receiver mountable on an attacking robot, in use, which receiver is configured so that the receiver only detects the electromagnetic wave transmitted by the transmitter mounted on the target robot when such receiver is orientated towards the target robot, so that when the attacking robot is so orientated, it is able to activate suitable firing means for engaging the target robot.

It is thus to be appreciated that the targeting system complements the attacking robot's firing systems by improving the accuracy thereof, typically allowing the attacking robot to indicate a “hit” on the target robot with a visually pleasing and pertinent firing system such as a visible laser weapon, a mechanical ballistic system, or the like.

The specific area in which the electromagnetic signal is transmitted about the target robot may include the entire area surrounding the robot. Otherwise, the specific area may include only a certain directional area about the robot, e.g. a sector about the robot, or the like.

The receiver may be configured to be directional to only detect the electromagnetic wave by said receiver including a suitable filter which only allows electromagnetic waves incident from a specific direction. The suitable filter may include a housing for housing the receiver, which housing defines a channel with a narrow vertical slit which only allows the electromagnetic signal to strike the receiver when incident directly through the slit, or the like. The housing may include at least one additional slit in the channel to minimize reflections of the incident signal in the channel.

The electromagnetic signal may include any wave in the electromagnetic spectrum. The electromagnetic wave may include a wave in the light frequency range, the radio frequency range, or the like.

The electromagnetic wave may be modulated to include information such as a unique identifier able to uniquely identify the transmitter, e.g. an identity code, or the like.

The targeting system may include the firing means configured to notify the target robot that the transmitted wave has been detected by the receiver on the attacking robot. The firing means may include a visual notification means, e.g. a strong light source such as a laser emitter, or the like. The firing means may include an audio notification means, e.g. an alarm, or the like. In addition, the firing means may include a transmitter for transmitting a notifying signal to the target robot, e.g. the target robot is configured to fall over upon receipt of a radio frequency notifying signal, or the like. Accordingly, the target robot may include a suitable receiver for registering engagement by the firing means. The firing means may include a ballistic firing mechanism, e.g. firing a missile at the target robot, or the like.

The receiver may be configured to determine the distance between the target and attacking robots from analysing a characteristic of the received electromagnetic signal. The characteristic of the signal so analysed may include strength of the signal, or the like. The firing means may be configured to only engage the target robot if the target robot is in range of the firing means.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention is now described, by way of non-limiting example, with reference to the accompanying drawings wherein

FIG. 1(a) shows, in side view, the receiver of the targeting system, in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 1(b) shows, in top view, the receiver of FIG. 1(a);

FIG. 1(c) shows, in front view, the receiver of FIG. 1(a);

FIG. 2 shows, in diagrammatic view, an example of the targeting system's receiver's vertical slit size relative to its effective range reception range;

FIG. 3 shows, in diagrammatic view, the targeting system, in use; and

FIG. 4 shows, in diagrammatic view, an example of how the system is able to determine the distance between the target and attacking robots.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

With reference to the accompanying drawings, a targeting system for a robot gaming environment, in accordance with the invention, is generally indicated by reference numeral 10.

In the embodiment of the invention shown, the targeting system 10 for a robot gaming environment includes a transmitter 12, which is mounted on a target robot 16. This transmitter 12 is configured to emit an electromagnetic signal 20, when activated, in a specific area 34 about this robot 16.

The system 10 also includes a directional receiver 14 mounted on an attacking robot 18. The receiver 14 is configured so that it only detects the electromagnetic wave 20 transmitted by the transmitter 12 when the receiver 14 is orientated towards the target robot 16. When the attacking robot 18 is so orientated, it is able to activate suitable firing means 22 for engaging the target robot 16 in the gaming environment.

It is to be appreciated that the receiver 14 is specifically configured to be directional to only detect the electromagnetic wave 20 when it is coming from a certain direction, i.e. directly from the target robot 16. This is accomplished by the receiver 14 including a suitable filter in the form of a housing 24 which houses the receiver 14. As shown, the housing 24 further defines a channel with an opening 26 therein. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, this opening 26 is a narrow vertical slit which only allows the electromagnetic signal 20 to strike the receiver 14 when incident directly through the slit 26.

In another embodiment of the invention (not shown), the housing 24 includes at least one and typically a plurality of additional slits in this channel of the housing 24 to minimize reflections of the incident signal 20 in the channel.

As such, it is to be appreciated that the electromagnetic signal or wave 20 includes any wave in the electromagnetic spectrum, e.g. a wave in the light frequency range, the radio frequency range, and/or the like.

In addition, the electromagnetic wave 20 may be modulated to include information such as a unique identifier able to uniquely identify the transmitter 12, e.g. an identity code, or the like. It is to be appreciated that any suitable modulation techniques may be used.

The targeting system 10 typically includes the firing means 22. This firing means 22 is configured to notify the target robot 16 that the transmitted wave 20 has been detected by the receiver 14 on the attacking robot 18. The firing means 22 generally includes a visual notification means, e.g. a strong light source such as a laser emitter, an audio notification means, e.g. an alarm, a transmitter for transmitting a notifying signal to the target robot 16, e.g. the target robot 16 is configured to fall over upon receipt of such notifying signal, and/or the like. Accordingly, the target robot 16 then includes a suitable receiver (not shown) for registering engagement by the firing means 22. The firing means 22 may also include a ballistic firing mechanism (not shown), e.g. firing a missile at the target robot, or the like.

It is to be appreciated that the firing means 22 is generally configured to provide a visually pleasing means of engaging the target robot 16 in the gaming environment in order to provide entertainment value to participants and contestants of such a game.

The receiver 14 is also typically configured to determine the distance between the target 16 and attacking 18 robots from analysing a characteristic of the received electromagnetic signal 20. This characteristic is typically the strength of the received signal, as shown in FIG. 4. As such, the firing means 22 is generally only configured to engage the target robot 16 if the target robot is in range of the firing means 22, e.g. a ballistic firing means may have a limited range, or the like.

A more specific description of one embodiment of the invention is now provided. FIG. 1(a) shows a side view of the elongated housing 24 of the receiver 14 with an infrared sensor 14 located at the inside back of the housing 24 or enclosure and a narrow vertical slit 26 at its front. The second part is the firing means 22 that is mounted co-axially on top or below of the infrared sensing device or receiver 14 which point in the same direction as the latter's vertical slit 26.

In this embodiment of the invention, the firing means 22 is a light emitting device which emits a focused light beam 28 from either a light emitting diode or a low-powered laser emitter, and simulates a shot being fired when activated by creating a visible impact pattern on the target object, such as the target robot 16. The infrared sensor 14 detects infrared signals 20 emitted from other participating target robots that are positioned such that the emitted infrared emissions 20 will reach the infrared sensor 14 through the vertical slit 26.

It is to be appreciated that the vertical slit 26 is generally high enough to allow infrared emissions originating from participating robots of different heights to be detected.

FIG. 1 (b) shows the receiver housing 24 from the top. The infrared sensor 14 is mounted at the back of the elongated enclosure or housing 24 within the channel so defined with the vertical slit 26 at the front thereof. The light emitting device or firing means 22 is shown, in this case, in dotted lines, protruding from underneath the elongated enclosure 24. Infrared emissions 20 from participating robots that are in line-of-sight are shown entering the elongated enclosure 24 through the vertical slit 26 and striking the infrared sensor 14.

FIG. 1(c) shows the housing 24 and firing means 22 from the front. The infrared sensor 14 can be seen through the vertical slit 26 which is part of the elongated enclosure 26. The light emitting device or firing means 22 is shown mounted at the top of the elongate enclosure 24, as above.

In FIG. 2, both the housing 24 with the receiver 14 and the target robot 16 is shown. Different types of firing means 22 each have a specific effective range 30. Target robots 16 outside its effective range may still be detected by the infrared targeting system's infrared sensors 14 and shot at, but an effective shot will not be registered within the context of the gaming scenario unless the target robot 16 is within range. The width of the vertical slit 32 will be such that a predefined portion 32 of the target robot 16 will be visible if viewed through the vertical slit 26 from the vantage point of the infrared sensor 14 with the target robot 16 at a distance away from the housing 24 equal to the maximum effective range 30 of the receiver 14.

FIG. 3 shows a global overview of the targeting system 10. The target robot 16 is shown with a 360° infrared emitter 12 and 360° infrared emissions 20. Also shown are two receivers inside their housings 24 at different positions relative to the target robot 16. The target robot's 360° infrared emitter 12 radiates infrared emissions in a 360° area 34 around it, some of which 20 strikes the two housings 24 at different angles. Since the top housing 24 is lined up with the target robot 16, infrared emissions 20 will be able to pass through the vertical slit 26 and will be detected by the infrared sensor 14 in that housing 24.

The lower housing and receiver is however at an angle to the target robot 16 with the result that the relevant infrared emission 20 will not be able to pass through the vertical slit 26 of that particular housing and will therefore not be detected by the receiver 14 in that housing 24.

In one embodiment, the receiver 14 which detected the target robot's infrared emission will therefore be able to register a hit when it engages or ‘fire at’ the target robot 16 with its light emitting device or firing means 22 provided it is within the effective range of the specific firing means 22. It should be clear from this that the light emitting device 22 serves merely as an aid to the operator or player and that the accuracy of the ‘shot’ will solely be determined by the firing means 22 as assisted by the infrared targeting system 10.

An approximation of the relative distance between the attacking and target robots 18 and 16, respectively, can be calculated as a function of the strength of the target robot's infrared emissions 20 as detected by the attacking robot 18. In FIG. 4, the target robot's infrared emitter 12 emits at a regular time interval a specially modulated burst of the 360° infrared signal 20. The attacking robot's infrared receiver 14 detects the target robot's infrared signal 20 and since the signal strength at the receiver 14 is proportional to the distance 30 from the emitter 12, it is possible to calculate an approximation of the distance 30 between the two devices 12 and 14.

The degradation of the signal over distance can be predicted, and is illustrated by the graph with the X-axis 30 depicting the distance that the signal travels, the Y-axis 38 depicting the signal strength, and the curve 36 representing the signal strength as it degrades over the distance 30. The actual signal strength at the point of receiving 40 will be measured and compared to the graph to determine the approximate distance between the two devices 12 and 14. The calculated distance will be used to determine whether the target robot 16 is in range and consequently whether an effective shot can be registered.

Although only certain embodiments of the invention have been described herein, it will be understood by any person skilled in the art that other modifications, variations, and possibilities of the invention are possible. Such modifications, variations and possibilities are therefore to be considered as falling within the spirit and scope of the invention and hence forming part of the invention as herein described and/or exemplified.

It shall further be understood that the examples are provided for illustrating the invention further and to assist a person skilled in the art with understanding the invention and is not meant to be construed as unduly limiting the reasonable scope of the invention.

It is to be appreciated that the system 10 differs from the known prior art systems in that the target robot 16 emits a signal allowing the attacking robot 18 to lock onto the position of the target robot 16 in order to engage it. This use of the targeting system 10 provides a simple and elegant way for targeting between such gaming robots.

The Inventors regard it as an advantage that the invention provides for an efficient and elegant way to allow gaming robots to target each other according to position and distance from each other to allow the robots to engage each other in a gaming environment. The Inventors regard it as a yet further advantage that the invention provides for a system able to ameliorate an existing firing means of a gaming robot.

The Inventors regard it as a yet further advantage that the targeting system, in accordance with the invention, includes a simplistic mechanical filter enabling the system to hone in on electromagnetic emissions emitted by a target robot.