Introduction to Robotics/Robotics and BoeBots/Assignment/Teachers

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Part 1

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How would would you teach a computer to make a sandwich?
Here is an example of a list of instructions:
  1. Find Peanut Butter
  2. Open Peanut Butter
  3. Find Bread
  4. Open Bread
  5. Take two slices of bread out of bag
  6. Lay 2 slices of bread on a plate
  7. Spread peanut butter on one slice of bread
  8. Find Jelly
  9. Open Jelly
  10. Spread Jelly on other slice of bread
  11. Put slices of bread together so that the peanut butter and the jelly are pressed together
  12. Cut sandwich in half

What's the Point?

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Some students are bound to ask "What's the point of this assignment?"

Like many things in science and engineering, the best way to learn a topic is through thought exercises and metaphores. Students need to get in the habit of thinking of problems in terms of small bite-sized chunks. If a student cannot explain how to make a simple sandwich (which they have probably been doing for years) then how are they going to explain complicated actions to a robot?


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Everybodies list will be different, and there is no single correct answer. Student's whose lists are short (fewer then 6 instructions) probably didn't put enough effort into the assignment.

Some students may come up with very long sets of instructions, or very detailed instructions as well.

The Answers

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One of the best ways to present the answers to this question is to let the class figure it out together as a group. Start by asking "What do I do first?" and then "What do I do next?"

If a student gives you an answer that is too complicated, say "That's too big, break it down into smaller parts" or ask "How do I do that in simple steps?" By the time you get through the whole process, the class will understand the concept better. Try to call on all the students, or at least avoid calling on any one student too many times.

Part 2

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  1. All three of these examples are considered to be parts of robotics.
  2. Some of these points can be argued, but in general, a robot must have autonomy or resourcefulness.
    1. A spam email filter. not a robot
    2. A garage door opener. not a robot
    3. A remote controlled boat. a robot
    4. A 1970's automobile. not a robot
    5. A current model automobile which includes lane-following. a robot
    6. An Apple IPod. not a robot
    7. An actor in in a silver suit. not a robot

Part 3

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There are many types of robots. Here is a partial list:

  • Androids (looks like a human, currently used mostly for research)
  • Stationary/Industrial (for manufacturing)
  • Ground Robots (used for autonomous exploration or movement, such as the Mars Rover)
  • Underwater (Unmanned Underwater Vehicles, can go places humans cannot)
  • Aerial (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, can go places humans cannot)
  • Microgravity (Robots designed to work in space, or in low-gravity places, such as the moon)
  • Machine Pet