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It has been a month or so since we threw down the gauntlet and began the iRobot Create challenge. Since then, we've seen some very interesting proposals and ideas on the iRobot forums and contest message boards. Of course, some of the mad scientists involved in the contest will likely choose to keep their cards close to their chests, and we'll have to wait until the contest is over to see all of the creative ideas involved. But we thought this would be a good time to share some of the more public proposals with our readers.
Before we dig in, I'd like to encourage you to visit the iRobot Create challenge forum at iRobot Create Challenge to share your own ideas about tasks you think people should program robots to do.
An iRobot with Eyes
Professor David P. Miller of the University of Oklahoma has managed to program the iRobot Create to see and respond to visual stimulus. Using an XBC robot controller - complete with camera and firmware that allows the robot to track multiple objects of different colors - Professor Miller has gotten the iRobot Create to play tennis. It tracks a colored ball to its side of the net and returns it at an angle that the robot calculates as appropriate. To clarify, this robotic "tennis" is a bit slower than human tennis but the mechanics are there. It's impressive, and you can find movies of this project and others at Adding vision to the iRobot Create