Olympic Robot Building Manual

Unknown author (1988-12-01)

The 1989 AI Lab Winter Olympics will take a slightly different twist from previous Olympiads. Although there will still be a dozen or so athletic competitions, the annual talent show finale will now be a display not of human talent, but of robot talent. Spurred on by the question, "Why aren't there more robots running around the AI Lab?", Olympic Robot Building is an attempt to teach everyone how to build a robot and get them started. Robot kits will be given out the last week of classes before the Christmas break and teams have until the Robot Talent Show, January 27th, to build a machine that intelligently connects perception to action. There is no constraint on what can be built; participants are free to pick their own problems and solution implementations. As Olympic Robot Building is purposefully a talent show, there is no particular obstacle course to be traversed or specific feat to be demonstrated. The hope is that this format will promote creativity, freedom and imagination. This manual provides a guide to overcoming all the practical problems in building things. What follows are tutorials on the components supplied in the kits: a microprocessor circuit "brain", a variety of sensors and motors, a mechanical building block system, a complete software development environment, some example robots and a few tips on debugging and prototyping. Parts given out in the kits can be used, ignored or supplemented, as the kits are designed primarily to overcome the intertia of getting started. If all goes well, then come February, there should be all kinds of new members running around the AI Lab!