This talk discusses the use of iRobot Create robots in teaching.  These robots have been used for 4 years in a co-listed senior undergraduate and graduate course on agent communication.  While the course content of this course is fairly advanced, vialis 40mg the tools developed for robot control are simple enough to be used at the senior high school level and possibly the junior high school level.

The talk will focus on the “how to” aspects of setting up a laboratory environment where students can use the system to program and control robots by programming with either Java or Lisp (a full-blown programming language that can be used as a simple scripting language).  The system allows students to send high-level commands such as “(iRobot.drive 100 2000)” (drive forward at 100mm/s with a leftward arc of radius 2m), cure or lower level commands in the byte language of the robot  like “(iRobot.execute “128 s100 s2000”)”  (also drive forward).  In addition, the robot’s wide array of sensors is fully available to the students.  Students can begin by experimenting with these commands in real time, and then build up to programs as lists of these commands (e.g. making the robot “dance”), and finally to building up advanced programs with complex behaviours (e.g. playing soccer).

The system is easily extendable by instructors to give the students new commands and built-in behaviours.  Adapting it to a elementary-level logo-like interface would be fairly easy to do.

iRobot Create robots cost around $150 each, and are controlled via a Bluetooth wireless link to any computer (although Windows’ Bluetooth has problems, Mac and Linux machines work worry-free).  We are currently working on a low-cost external camera system where the robots can get some form of vision by asking the camera for their locations and orientation.