|Surveyor Robotics Journal|
Thu, 29 Mar 2007
Report from 2007 AAAI Spring Symposium
Just back from a 3-day conference at Stanford University with university robotics educators discussing curriculum and tools for autonomous educational robotics - http://www.cs.hmc.edu/roboteducation/. As a large percentage of our robots are going to educators and researchers, I was hoping for some first-hand feedback on user requirements, how our robots fit, and what we need to change. The information gathered at the conference significantly exceeded my most optimistic expectations, it will take some time to fully digest what I learned, I found that we're generally on the right track, though we need to focus some effort on ease of use, especially with regard to software installation.
Concluding the symposium was a friendly competition between different participants who could choose different robots to work with to accomplish a specified task. The particular task was to program the robot to move away from a starting point for 30 seconds while avoiding obstacles, then turn around and try to try to get as close as possible to the starting point in 30 seconds. Robots used included the Parallax Scribbler with Myro, a variety of iRobot Creates with XBC Botball controllers, a CMU TerK, and the SRV-1.
The team from University of Kent, Canterbury UK, modified the SRV-1 firmware on the fly to run their "Transterpreter" - www/transterpreter.org, executing an onboard program in the occam-pi programming language, and building a three-layer Brooks-style subsumption architecture to accomplish the specified task. The Transterpreter is a particularly powerful architecture for programming concurrency, even on a simple processor such as the ARM7. Here's a picture of the flow diagram from which they based the code -
and a picture of the team crunching code with less than 20 minutes to competition deadline -
Here's the robot in action -
and a photo of the winners with their spoils -
Matt Jadud, Christian Jacobsen, and Jon Simpson from University of Kent
Our congratulations and thanks to the winners. We look forward to having them explain exactly what a three-layer Brook-style subsumption architecture is, and especially more about Transterpreter and occam-pi, as they plan to continue working with the SRV-1.