Robotics @ Home Competition

Computer Science Teacher
Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

Robotics @ Home Competition

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The Microsoft Robotics team has released a new software stack for controlling robots  – RDS4 Beta. There are a couple of very exciting new additions in this beta:

  • Uses Kinect for the eyes
  • A new reference design for consumer robots – write code once, run it on any robot.

You can see a lot more of the details at this Channel 9 video: http://channel9.msdn.com/posts/A-Look-At-Robotics-Developer-Studio-4-Beta

They are also interested in encouraging others to use this new software so there is now the Robotics @ Home Competition.

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Do you have a cool idea for an @home robot?

Here’s your chance to show us what you’ve got. Describe that cool idea to us in a PPT, PDF or Word Doc and submit it. If your concept is picked, you could be one of 10 finalists who will be loaned a real robot that you can use to bring your concept to life. If you are chosen as one of the finalists, your second challenge will be to submit a video of your robot in action. A grand prize winner will be selected and awarded up to $10,000!

What do I do to enter?

  • Step 1: Sign up for the competition newsletter so you can get alerts and important info.
  • Step 2: Review the Official Rules section below for entry requirements.
  • Step 3: Come up with a cool @home robot idea and submit it. Don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter on our homepage to keep up to date on the latest contest news too.

What types of @home robot scenarios can I submit an entry for?

We have created three main categories for you to use as a guide for @home robot usage scenarios. You can submit as many entries for as many categories as you’d like, as long as each entry is unique – but only one entry may be selected to advance to Round 2 of the competition.

Consumer Usage Scenarios
Examples : Gaming, Video, Music, Security, Productivity, Education, etc.

Human Robot Interaction
Examples : Gestures, Speech, Behaviors, Skeletal Tracking, Face Detection, etc.

Autonomous Navigation
Examples : Smart Drive, SLAM, Metric Maps, Obstacle Detection, etc.

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  • This looks so promising until you realize the paradigm shift required to teach/learn VPL.  It is not like Scratch which is a graphic version of a fairly common syntax programming language.  A good VB programmer switching to VPL would not be starting from scratch (no pun) but it would definitely not be like switching to C# or RobotC.  I kind of like VPL, it makes me think, but I am not sure I would want to take my high school kids down that road.  Maybe next time a get a bunch of kids smarter than I am I will sic them on VPL and the virtual robot world.  The $1000 price tag on the real robot is outside my $5 budget.

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