US20120238366A1 - Robot Game for Multiple Players that is Remotely Controlled over a Network - Google Patents

Robot Game for Multiple Players that is Remotely Controlled over a Network Download PDF

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Publication number
US20120238366A1
US20120238366A1 US13/421,300 US201213421300A US2012238366A1 US 20120238366 A1 US20120238366 A1 US 20120238366A1 US 201213421300 A US201213421300 A US 201213421300A US 2012238366 A1 US2012238366 A1 US 2012238366A1
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Prior art keywords
game
robot
robots
system
user interface
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Abandoned
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US13/421,300
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Maurice Tedder
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Maurice Tedder
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Application filed by Maurice Tedder filed Critical Maurice Tedder
Priority to US13/421,300 priority patent/US20120238366A1/en
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Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63HTOYS, e.g. TOPS, DOLLS, HOOPS, BUILDING BLOCKS
    • A63H30/00Remote-control arrangements specially adapted for toys, e.g. for toy vehicles
    • A63H30/02Electrical arrangements
    • A63H30/04Electrical arrangements using wireless transmission
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F3/00Board games; Raffle games
    • A63F3/00643Electric board games; Electric features of board games
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F9/00Games not otherwise provided for
    • A63F9/14Racing games, traffic games, or obstacle games characterised by figures moved by action of the players
    • A63F9/143Racing games, traffic games, or obstacle games characterised by figures moved by action of the players electric
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63HTOYS, e.g. TOPS, DOLLS, HOOPS, BUILDING BLOCKS
    • A63H17/00Toy vehicles, e.g. with self-drive; ; Cranes, winches or the like; Accessories therefor
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F2250/00Miscellaneous game characteristics
    • A63F2250/28Miscellaneous game characteristics with a two-dimensional real image
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63HTOYS, e.g. TOPS, DOLLS, HOOPS, BUILDING BLOCKS
    • A63H2200/00Computerized interactive toys, e.g. dolls

Abstract

An amusement system comprising a game field and a plurality of robots that are manipulated by a plurality of user interface controllers at a remote location relative to the game field. A network links each of the user interface controllers to one of the robots to cause the robot to perform at least one action. A video camera focuses on the game field to provide a streaming image of the game field through the network. A video display device at the remote location receives the streaming video image from the network and displays the streaming video image of the robots. A method of providing a game that involves controlling a plurality of electronically controlled mechanical robots over a communication network that provides streaming video from a streaming video system to the user interface controllers at a remote location.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application claims the benefit of U.S. provisional Application No. 61/452,826 filed Mar. 15, 2011, the disclosure of which is incorporated in its entirety by reference herein.
  • TECHNICAL FIELD
  • The present invention relates to remotely controlling robot apparatus over a network to provide entertainment in the form of competitive games and skill development.
  • BACKGROUND
  • Applicant is a co-inventor in published U.S. Patent Application 2008/0113800 A1 dated May 15, 2008 that is entitled Game With Remotely Controlled Game Vehicles. This prior application discloses an arcade style game enclosure in which game vehicles are controlled by players who manipulate the vehicles with hand held controllers. The game players observe the action through windows that prevent the vehicles from leaving or being removed from the enclosure. The prior application also acknowledges that the television show entitled “Battle Bots” is a known prior art game involving robots.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a game field and game components that may make up one layer of a multilayer system;
  • FIG. 2-a is a front perspective view of an example of one type of robotic apparatus that may be used in practicing the disclosed game;
  • FIG. 2-b is a bottom/rear perspective view of an example of one type of robotic apparatus that may be used in practicing the disclosed game;
  • FIG. 3 is a diagrammatic view of an example of one embodiment of the system architecture that may be used to operate the disclosed game; and
  • FIG. 4 is a system flow diagram showing the sequence of operations according to one embodiment of the disclosure.
  • SUMMARY
  • According to one aspect of this disclosure, a game system is disclosed that comprises a predefined game area with at least one robot disposed in the game area. At least one user interface controller at a remote location that is remote from the game area. A network that links one of the at least one user interface controllers to provide an electronic command signal to one of the at least one robots to cause the robot to perform at least one action. A video camera directed towards the game area that provides a streaming video image of the at least one robot to the network. A video display device at the remote location that receives the streaming video image from the network and displays the streaming video image of the at least one robot.
  • According to other alternative aspects of the disclosure, the game system may further comprise a module that provides a game area, wherein the module includes a floor and a wall enclosing the floor. The module may further include a ceiling that is disposed in a parallel plane relative to the floor, and wherein an AC/DC converter is connected to the floor and the ceiling to provide a voltage between the floor and the ceiling. In another alternative embodiment, the module may further comprise a charging system for charging the robot.
  • The robot may further comprise a miniature video camera that provides a robot point-of-view streaming video. The robot may further comprise a sensor such as a proximity sensor, a photocell; or an RFID sensor. The robot may further comprise an RFID sensor at least one RFID tag that is disposed in the game area that actuates the RFID sensor when the RFID sensor is moved to a location in close proximity to the RFID tag.
  • According to another aspect of this disclosure, an amusement system is disclosed that comprises a game field with a plurality of robots disposed in the game field. A plurality of user interface controllers are provided at a remote location relative to the game field. A network links each of the user interface controllers to one of the robots to provide at least one control signal to the robot to cause the robot to perform at least one action. A video camera is directed towards the game field to provide a streaming image of the game field to the network. A video display device at the remote location receives the streaming video image from the network and displays the streaming video image of the robots.
  • According to other aspects of the amusement system, the video camera may be disposed above the game field to provide a top plan view of the game field. In addition or alternatively, a second video camera may be provided in addition to the video camera that provides a second perspective of the game field.
  • The amusement system may further comprise a multi-player game server the receives provides control signals to a plurality of robots to control movement of the robots, and that also controls game play and communicates with a scoring system. A wireless communication link may be provided that operatively links the multi-player game server to the robots. The user interface controllers may be a computer, a telephone, or a game controller. The control signal may be used to accelerate, stop, turn, operate a shooting device, operate an arm, or operate a lever associated with the at least one robot.
  • According to another aspect of this disclosure a method of providing a game that includes a game floor area, a plurality of electronically controlled mechanical robots, a communication network, and a plurality of user interface controllers. The game comprises accessing a web server through the communication network to log onto a game server. Streaming video from a streaming video system to the game user interface of an image of the game floor area and the robots. Interacting through a game user interface with one of the robots to command the robot to perform a function.
  • According to other aspects of the method, the robot may be commanded to perform a function in response to signals received from the game user interface and may also provide a data packet to the game user interface to indicate a successful action. The data packet may be routed through a game server and a browser interface to the game user interface. The streaming video may be the sole image of the game floor and robots that is visible from the game user interface. In an one embodiment of the disclosure, the robot may include an RFID interface that indicates that a destination is successfully obtained when the robot moves within range of an RFID tag.
  • The above aspects of the disclosure and other aspects of the disclosure will be more fully understood in view of the attached drawings and the following detailed description of the illustrated embodiments.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • A detailed description of the illustrated embodiments of the present invention is provided below. The disclosed embodiments are examples of the invention that may be embodied in various and alternative forms. The figures are not necessarily to scale. Some features may be exaggerated or minimized to show details of particular components. The specific structural and functional details disclosed in this application are not to be interpreted as limiting, but merely as a representative basis for teaching one skilled in the art how to practice the invention.
  • Referring to FIG. 1, a game system 10 is illustrated diagrammatically. The entire game system 10 may include a plurality of game modules 12 so that many games may be played by many players at the same time. In FIG. 1, a single game module 12 is shown that may be stacked with other modules that may be playing the same type of game or a different type of game. Each game module 12 may include a planar floor 16 that is enclosed by a wall 18. The planar floor and wall may be referred to as a fighting ring, game area or game field. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the planar floor 16 is rectangular and the wall 18 is disposed about the four sides of the planar floor 16. A ceiling 20 is provided above the floor 16 and the walls 18. The ceiling may be provided on the bottom of an upwardly adjacent game module.
  • A voltage source 22 may be an AC/DC converter that is used to provide a DC voltage between the planar floor 16 and the ceiling 20. The embodiment illustrated in FIG. 1 could be modified to include an inductive charging system for battery or a conventional battery charging station. With either of the latter approaches, the ceiling 20 may be eliminated and the AC/DC converter 22 could be replaced by another power source.
  • Referring to FIGS. 1, 2 a and 2 b, a robotic apparatus 24 is shown in FIGS. 2 a and 2 b. A plurality of robotic apparatus, or robots, 24 are disposed on the floor 16 of the game module 12, as shown in FIG. 1. The robots are identified as 24 a, 24 b, 24 c and 24 d. Each of the robots 24 a-24 d has its own identity and is separately controlled by a remote user. The robots 24 could be modified to have a different shape or appearance and may also be operated in a different manner than the example described with reference FIG. 1.
  • The robots 24 each include a ceiling contactor 26 that is made of electrically conductive material that extends above the robot 24 to contact the ceiling 20 of the game module 12. As shown in FIG. 2 b, the robots 24 also include a floor contactor 28, for example, that comprises a loop of electrically conductive material that contacts the floor 16 of the game module 12. When the ceiling contactor 26 and floor contactor 28 are placed in contact with the floor 16 and ceiling 20 current is provided to the robot 24.
  • The robot 24 has two drive wheels 30 in the illustrated embodiment and a body 32 that may house a controller 34 for the robot 24. The body 32 may also include a miniature camera or interactive sensors 35. Interactive sensors may include photocells, proximity switches, or the like. The robots 24 a-d each have a motor and gear reducer 36 that is used to drive the drive wheels 30. The controller 34 controls when the drive wheels 30 are to be driven by the motor and gear reducer 36. A passive wheel 38 is provided on the robot 24 to stabilize the robot as it is driven by the drive wheels 30. The passive wheel could be eliminated or more than one passive wheel 38 could be provided, if desired. For example, if the robot 24 is to simulate a truck or car, any number of passive wheels 38 and any number of drive wheels 30 may be provided for the robot 24. In the illustrated embodiment, one drive wheel 30 may be driven while the other drive wheel 30 remains stationary to steer the robot 24. Alternatively, a separate steering mechanism and control may be included.
  • An RFID sensor 40 is also illustrated on the robot 24. The RFID sensor 40 includes an antenna, coil and transducer (not shown) that provides an output signal when the RFID sensor 40 is moved into close proximity with an RFID tag 42. The RFID tags 42 are shown scattered about the floor 16. The game shown in FIG. 1 involves locating objects containing RFID tags 42 by moving one of the robots 24 a-24 d into close proximity with the objects containing RFID tags 42 either randomly or in a designated order.
  • Remote users can observe the action on the floor 16 by means of a field camera 46 that provides a top plan view in the embodiment of the invention illustrated in FIG. 1. Alternatively, an end view, a side view, a diagonal view, or a view from the robots 24 could be provided by relocating or replacing the camera. The location of the camera 46 is selected depending upon the type of game to be played on the game module 12. A streaming video system 48 receives signals from the field camera or may receive signals from cameras located in other locations or the miniature camera 35 on the robot 24, or as described above. The streaming video system may provide a streaming video through the web server 50 or directly to a network as described below with reference to FIGS. 3 and 4. A web server 50 is provided to connecting game system 10 to a network such as the Internet as will be described more fully below.
  • A multi-player game server 52 is also illustrated in FIG. 1 that is used to coordinate the movement of the robots, control game play according to game rules, receive and process user commands and maintains users scores 24 a-24 d in the game system 10. While four robots are shown in designated 24 a-24 d it should be understood that any number of robots could be provided depending upon the space available in the game module 12. The multi-player game server 52 is preferably connected, for example, to the robots 24 a-24 d by a Bluetooth® connection or other radio frequency communication link. Alternatively, another form of wireless communication may be also provided between the multi-player game server 52 and the robots 24 a-24 d such as an infra-red or a laser communication link, however, line of sight types of wireless communication may be less desirable because the robot 24 a-24 d may create a shadow that would interrupt communication between the multi-player game server 52 and the robots 24 a-24 d.
  • Referring to FIG. 3, a network 60 is provided to permit connection to a large number of users. While the system in FIG. 3, as illustrated, refers to the Internet as the network 60, it should be understood that other types of networks could be used to implement the game system 10 developed by applicant. Potential users of the system may include users having desktop computers 62, a notebook (or tablet) computer 64, a smart phone 66 or a game console 68. The game console 68 could be provided in an arcade, for example, that includes a video screen, a touch screen, hand held game controller, or other user interface. The arcade embodiment is one example of a system that permits a user to pay for each game played on the game console 68. Any of the input devices such as desk top computer 62, notebook or tablet computer 64, smart phone 66 or a game console 68 may connect through a browser interface 70 or software client application to the network 60.
  • Communication with the game is provided by accessing a web server 50 through the browser interface 70 or software client application. A 2-D or 3-D video streaming server 48 is also connected to the users through the Internet 60. Each of the individual users receive a streaming video connection to the browser interface 70 or software client application so that they may watch the results of their manipulation of their robot or competitive robots. Many robots 24 may be manipulated by the multi-player game server 52. The multi-player game server 52 has a two way communication for the users through the network 60. The multi-player game server 52 provides commands to the robots 24 through the controller 34 in the robot body 32. The robots may also provide return data signals to the multi-player game server 52. The robots 24 a-24 d are preferably connected to the multi-player game server by a Bluetooth® wireless radio frequency communication link.
  • The streaming video system 48 is shown to correspond with the embodiment illustrated in connection with FIG. 1, however, it should be understood that the streaming video could be provided by miniature cameras 35 mounted to the individual robots. A browser interface 70 or software client application is provided to link the network 60 to one or more of the desk top computers 62, notebook computer 64, smart phone 66, or game console 68. The browser interface 70 or software client application provides access for each one of the individual devices listed above. Game play is initiated on the game system by accessing the web server 50 of the game system 10. The streaming video from the video server is provided through the Internet to the browser interface 70 or software client application. Similarly, the multi-player game server 52 communicates through the network 60 and the browser interface 70 or software client application to the specified devices.
  • Referring to FIG. 4, a system sequence diagram is provided that illustrates how a user 72 proceeds in a step-wise fashion to play the game system 10. A user 72 initially requests to play the game by accessing the web server 50 through the browser interface 70 or software client application. The web server then returns the web page to the browser interface 70 or software client application. At this point, the user 72 may log into the multi-player game server 52 from the browser interface 70 or software client application. The multi-player game server 52 then responds to permit the user to access the game server 52. The user 72 in the next step automatically receives the video stream be provided to their browser from the streaming video system 48. A video connection is then provided to the user through the browser interface 70 or software client application. At this time, the user can then see what is happening in the game system 10 and is ready to begin playing.
  • The user interacts with the game user interface by accessing the browser interface 70 or software client application. Signals are sent to the multi-player game server 52 and to the robots 24. The signals, for example, may be to accelerate, stop, turn right, turn left, or operate an arm, a shooting device, or a lever. In short, the user can remotely control a robot 24 to do anything the robot is structurally and functionally capable of preforming.
  • In one embodiment, the robot 24 may return a robot data packet to the multi-player game server indicating, for example, the RFID sensor has moved to within the range of the object 42 necessary to indicate a successful destination obtained, object pick-up, or target identified operation. This information is returned as a data packet to the multi-player game server 52. The game server 52 then advises the user by returning game play data to the browser interface 70 or software client application so that the user 72 can receive a point or another acknowledgement of data generated by the robot as part of the game play process.
  • While exemplary embodiments are described above, it is not intended that these embodiments describe all possible forms of the invention. Rather, the words used in the specification are words of description rather than limitation, and it is understood that various changes may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Additionally, the features of various implementing embodiments may be combined to form further embodiments of the invention.

Claims (19)

1. A system comprising:
a predefined game area;
at least one robot disposed in the game area;
at least one user interface controller at a remote location that is remote from the game area;
a network that links one of the at least one user interface controllers to provide an electronic command signal to one of the at least one robots to cause the robot to perform at least one action;
a video camera directed towards the game area that provides a streaming video image of the at least one robot to the network; and
a video display device at the remote location that receives the streaming video image from the network and displays the streaming video image of the at least one robot.
2. The system of claim 1 further comprising a module that provides a game area, wherein the module includes a floor and a wall enclosing the floor.
3. The system of claim 2 wherein the module further includes a ceiling that is disposed in a parallel plane relative to the floor, and wherein an AC/DC converter is connected to the floor and the ceiling to provide a voltage between the floor and the ceiling.
4. The system of claim 2 wherein the module further comprises a charging system for charging the robot.
5. The system of claim 1 wherein the robot further comprises a miniature video camera that provides a robot point-of-view streaming video.
6. The system of claim 1 wherein the robot further comprises a sensor selected from the group consisting of:
a proximity sensor,
a photocell; or
an RFID sensor.
7. The system of claim 1 wherein the robot further comprises an RFID sensor, and wherein at least one RFID tag is disposed in the game area that actuates the RFID sensor when the RFID sensor is moved to a location in close proximity to the RFID tag.
8. An amusement system comprising:
a game field;
a plurality of robots disposed in the game field;
a plurality of user interface controllers at a remote location relative to the game field;
a network that links each of the user interface controllers to one of the robots to provide at least one control signal to the robot to cause the robot to perform at least one action;
a video camera directed towards the game field that provides a streaming image of the game field to the network; and
a video display device at the remote location that receives the streaming video image from the network and displays the streaming video image of the robots.
9. The amusement system of claim 8 wherein the video camera is disposed above the game field to provide a top plan view of the game field.
10. The amusement system of claim 8 further comprising a second video camera in addition to the video camera that provides a second perspective of the game field.
11. The amusement system of claim 8 further comprising a multi-player game server the receives provides control signals to a plurality of robots to control movement of the robots, and that also controls game play and communicates with a scoring system.
12. The amusement system of claim 11 further comprising a wireless communication link that operatively links the multi-player game server to the robots.
13. The amusement system of claim 8 wherein the user interface controllers are selected from the group consisting of:
a computer;
a telephone; or
a game controller.
14. The amusement system of claim 8 wherein the at least one control signal may be used to accelerate, stop, turn, operate a shooting device, operate an arm, or operate a lever associated with the at least one robot.
15. A method of providing a game that includes a game floor, a plurality of electronically controlled mechanical robots, a communication network, and a plurality of game user interfaces, the game comprising:
accessing a web server through the communication network;
logging into a game server;
streaming video from a streaming video system to the game user interface of an image of the game floor and the robots;
interacting through a game user interface with one of the robots to command the robot to perform a function; and
selecting a robot with the user interface controller.
16. The method of claim 15 wherein the robot is commanded to perform a function in response to signals received from the game user interface and provides a data packet to the game user interface to indicate a successful action.
17. The method of claim 16 wherein the data packet is routed through a game server and a browser interface to the game user interface.
18. The method of claim 15 wherein the streaming video is the sole image of the game floor and robots that is visible from the game user interface.
19. The method of claim 15 wherein the robot includes an RFID interface that indicates that a destination is successfully obtained when the robot moves within range of an RFID tag.
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