IofT 1910W: Fall 2006
|Time and Location:||Tuesday and Thursday 2:30 - 3:45 in Ford Hall 110|
Dr. Maria Gini
office hours: TBA or by appointment in EE/CSci 5-213, (612) 625-5582.
Class WebpageAll handouts, assignments, announcements, and any additional material will be available through the class web page at http://www.itlabs.umn.edu/classes/Fall-2006/ioft1910
PrerequisitesNo knowledge of programming or of robotics is required.
Reading MaterialWe will read a number of papers on the AIBO, legged robotics, and related topics.
Course DescriptionThis seminar is centered on the use of the Sony robot dogs (AIBO) as a tool for exposing students to concepts in computer science and robotics. The seminar will focus on thinking about new ways of using robots to interact with people and will examine user interactions and attitudes towards robot technology. Students will work on applications using the robot dogs in the laboratory. The focus will be on understanding the role of robot technology in solving real problems. The seminar will include reading and discussion of papers on the use of robots, on computational aspects of intelligence, and on user interaction with robot technology. Emphasis will be placed on understanding different types of technical writing used in the robotics and computer science field.
The Sony AIBO ERS-7 looks and behaves like a dog. It has a dog-like face with an array of 40 LEDs that convey a variety of messages and emotions. Its tail wags almost like a dog tail. AIBO finds the charging station on its own, using its camera, and can recognize 15 graphic cards with commands. It can hear using the microphones in its ears, has a vocabulary of 100 words, and uses MIDI files to play music when it is happy or wants to dance. The software that comes with the AIBO controls the dog motions, the dog's maturation from puppy to mature stage, and enables it to communicate remotely using its built-in wireless (802.11b) capability. In addition to being able to recognize and recall objects, AIBO is able to remember objects and their location. This is especially useful for navigation.
Course Work and Learning ObjectivesThe main objective of the course is to expose students to robot applicatios, in particular to interaction of robots with people using robots as pets. The course will use the Sony robot dogs AIBOs. AIBOs interact with people through a variety of sensors (a camera, various touch sensors, and microphones). They are preprogrammed to do different activities, including playing with simple toys, exploring their environment, and learning to recognize their owner. They can also be reprogrammed using a simple scripting language or can be controlled interactively from an external computer using their wireless connection. Because of their ability to interact with people, to adapt to new situations, and to take initiative they are increasingly being used as pets. This is opening up an entire new way for people to think about robots as creatures with their own personality and rights. Applications could range from using the dogs to monitor a house, to using them as pets for elderly people, to use them to collect pictures and email them to friends, to make them dance, etc.
The course will focus on understanding fundamental concepts in robotics and on thinking about how to use robot technology with people. In addition, the course will expose students to different types of technical writings in robotics and computer science and prepare them for more advanced technical writing in the field. Reading of papers, various types of writing, discussion, and laboratory work will be used through the semester.
- Weekly Readings and Writings:
Each week we will read 1 or 2 technical papers related to the use of robots,
user interactions with robots, computational aspects of intelligence, and
other technical aspects of robotics. The readings will provide an opportunity
to learn about the subject matter and to learn about technical writing in
the field of computer science. Specific discussion will be devoted to
the different types of writing that are expected in computer science.
As part of the course work, students will be required to work on different
types of writing (paper summaries, a term paper, and a project report).
A short summary (1/2 to 1 page) of each of the readings will have to be submitted at the beginning of each week. The purpose of the summary is to highlight the major ideas of the paper, to raise questions for discussion in class, and to discuss the style of writing of the paper. All the writeups will be reviewed by the instructor. Students will be given the opportunity to revise them and resubmit them.
- Term Paper:
Students will write a paper (10-12 pages) on the use of robot technology to
interact with people and/or assist them. The paper can either focus on the
technology needed for the robots, or on the interactions with the
users, or on a specific application domain (such as using robots as companions
for elderly people, or search and rescue) where
robots can be used. Background material for the paper will be covered in the
The initial writing of the paper is due mid semester. The paper will be reviewed by the instructor and will have to be revised and resubmitted.
- Laboratory Work: Laboratory work will include simple programming assignments to familiarize the students with the use of the robot dogs. No prior programming knowledge is required, but some familiarity with basic programming concepts will help. The robots are programmed either using a scripting language and other tools provided by Sony, or using an extension to Python. Advanced programming in an object-oriented language will be available for students with significant programming experience.
- Group Project: Students will team up in small groups (2-3) to work on a project of their own choice based on using the robot dogs or on a study about robot pets. Each project will be presented orally to the rest of the class towards the end of the semester. A project report is due at the end of the semester.
Course Requirements and Grading
|Participation to Class and to Discussion||20%|
|Group Project (including presentation and report)||25%|