Magazine article AI Magazine

The AAAI-2001 Robot Exhibition

Magazine article AI Magazine

The AAAI-2001 Robot Exhibition

Article excerpt

* The 2001 American Association for Artificial Intelligence Mobile Robot Exhibition provided an opportunity for Al researchers to interact and share ideas. Despite some difficulties with environment and timing, the primary objective of disseminating information was achieved. A short summary of each robot demonstrates the variety in form and function among the exhibitions.

The 2001 American Association for Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) Mobile Robot Exhibition provided a forum for robots to operate outside a competitive arena. With a wide variety in behavior and form, the robots in the exhibition created a sense of the broad range of function in the robotic community. As one of the only events with no scoring or judges, the exhibition takes on a very different feel and allows robots with different objectives to be shown and discussed. The exhibition has provided past Al researchers with new perspectives and ideas. Exhibitors have also benefited through hands-on exposure to real robots from other institutions.

The extreme diversity, however, presents numerous challenges. At the most basic level, finding the proper way to interact with an audience presents a challenge. Although most visitors are able to quickly and easily understand competitive robots and their tasks, the exhibited robots have no such context to quickly identify their work. The robots are often out of their natural environments, which can further obscure the purpose of a particular project. Finally, with no implicit timing or natural cycle, the exhibition takes on a completely amorphous quality that, in contrast to the natural scheduling of a competition, creates difficulty in finding or holding audiences.

This year's exhibitors were able to overcome many of these obstacles, though, and generate conversation about several important Al topics. Each of the following projects was presented at the exhibition as well as discussed in a more detailed talk on the final day of the workshop.

Air Hockey with Humanoid Robot DB

Programming a robot is often a complex and involved task. For many tasks, examples of successful runs are provided over and over by humans. By allowing the robot to learn and practice behaviors at run time, Darrin Bentivegna aims to create robots that can learn and adjust their behaviors without the traditional programming interface.

This question has been explored in different game domains, with the most recent work involving air hockey against a humanoid robot. After a human has specified some primitives (such as "defend the goal"), the system is able to break the primitives down, use the parts to create goals and desired outcomes, and generate motion as well as an error signal to learn from.

Both a video of the system and a laptop with a simulation were available at the exhibit. Together, they provided observers with both a sense of the difficulty of the task as well as some perspective on what the system has accomplished

-Darrin Bentivegna, Georgia Institute of Technology


The Center for Distributed Robotics focuses on creating small, inexpensive teams of mobile robots. Using wireless networks to both communicate with each other and transmit pictures, these robots have been optimized for surveillance tasks. With two eight-bit processors and little sensing, the focus of this research has been on the development of a distributed control system that allows these robots to operate cooperatively using shared resources (figure 1).

In addition to their innovative control, these robots demonstrated several clever mechanical feats. A later revision of the cylinder robots is able to change the radius of their wheels, allowing them to gain greater speed and reliability without compromising their small package size. A spring-loaded winch mechanism also allowed the small robots to jump out of trouble spots and over some small obstacles that presented problems. …

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