Yost Engineering, Inc. maintains an active research and design lab and fosters a creative and challenging environment for our employees. YEI also maintains close ties with universities and schools in the surrounding area. Keeping involved in the forefront of technology allows us to maintain an innovative approach to the design/build/refine cycle, while keeping involved with educators and students helps to create the innovative minds of tomorrow. Besides, our programmers and designers love this stuff.
One of our ongoing projects was conceived as a means to tie many of our on-going research interests together into a demonstrable system. The project is now known as L.O.U.I.E.
What's a L.O.U.I.E?
A term coined by one of our research team members, L.O.U.I.E. is an acronym for "Life-Like Often Useless Interactive Entity." The word is similar in meaning to robot or android but we prefer it because we find it to be more descriptive of the type of being that we are creating in our lab. L.O.U.I.E. is a demonstration prototype that showcases some of our research results in natural language processing, human-computer interaction, image processing, and artificial intelligence.
As he evolves, L.O.U.I.E. will become a fully articulated, mobile, artificially intelligent being. He will be able to smile, laugh, smirk, frown, talk, cry, and laugh. Like any other being he will have the senses of sight, sound, and touch so that he can perceive the world in which he lives. He will be able to interact with the world by talking, telling jokes, and moving about just as we do in our daily lives. Internally L.O.U.I.E. will have a "brain" that allows him to process all of this information. Rather than being "programmed" L.O.U.I.E. will be given the ability to learn from his experiences so that he can eventually learn to talk and cope with his environment just as children do. Right now, since L.O.U.I.E. is very young and has led a sheltered life, he is quite naive and has a very limited vocabulary. (And he still tends to believe everything that people tell him...which can cause some problems depending on who is doing the training!)
YEI Project “Snake”
To help demonstrate the capabilities of Yost Engineering’s ServoCenter, we have created what could be used as a maneuverable robotic, um, arm, with a camera at the end. This project, for lack of a better or more appropriate term, is called “Snake.” Using only six servos, this device can be turned in a variety of ways utilizing the ServoCenter controller board. This project was unveiled at the RoboBusiness conference in Pittsburgh in June of 2006. Read a review of the conference, including commentary about the YEI Snake in The Register (UK).
TreeFractory creates unique and natural-looking trees. This application allows for the interactive growing of simulated trees. The user can control all aspects of the tree's growth, including gravity (what would a Moon Tree look like? Find Out!), oxygen, sunlight, nitrogen, water, and more. You can create an ultra-realistic looking natural tree structure or get a wild alien-looking tree that has never before been seen. Each tree can be as unique as the trees in nature - or even more so! This program is suitable for academic use as a learning tool and will teach the user about nature, mathematics, computational recursion, and programming in a fun and interactive environment. TreeFractory v2.1 has also been used to create artistic expressions and as an architectural aid for creating unique yet natural-looking tree structures for use in graphic design, games, simulations, and architectural drawings.
Our R&D lab projects are always numerous and tend to range from concrete applied technology to obscure theoretical aspects of computing. Current projects and areas of interest include:
- Robotic locomotion and navigation
- Motion control, autonomous and directed
- Natural language processing
- Human-computer interaction
- Genetic algorithms and modeling
- Artificial intelligence
- System fault tolerance
- Applications of Formal Languages
- Educational outreach in science and computer engineering
We also support the development of educational materials and coursepaks for primary, secondary, and college-level courses. Our design lab members regularly participate in summer courses for high school students offered through local universities, as well as other local school enrichment activities.