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[DPRG] Re: Contests at the Science Place

Subject: [DPRG] Re: Contests at the Science Place
From: David P. Anderson dpa at io.isem.smu.edu
Date: Thu Feb 7 21:20:52 CST 2002

Howdy

Any type of timing, manual or electronic, sounds
good to me.  Rick's timers sound very cool and also
hi-tech and I'm sure will make a very nice addition
to our contests.  I'm generally of the opinion that
if a guy wants to do something, let 'em do it!   Who
was it that wrote, "After all is said and done, more
is said than done?"   Must have been a DPRG list
subscriber. :)

However ...

I believe the QuickTrip was originally envisioned as
a good entry level event for beginning robot builders,
and not as a drag race. 

Extra points were awarded for robots that could turn
around at the endpoints because that was considered more
sophisticated behavior than just reversing the motors, and
so was encouraged.  

Thus the points were weighted in such a way that the "smarter"
robot got more points than the merely "faster" robot.  At one
time, at any rate, each of the contests was considered a
stepping stone to the next.  So the QuickTrip, down and back,
was the simplest (some may remember the long-lost-Roger-
Arrick's "OneBit" as the prototype).  Robots that had more
advanced behaviors, like turning around at the endpoints,
or demonstrating cognitive navigation, got more points.

(First time I won QuickTrip, for example, mine was not the
fastest time.  But I won because my bot turned around at
the endpoints and also navigated around a cardboard box
I gratuitously threw out in it's path to impress the judges.)

Likewise, the TTime was the next step because it required
the ability to handle both inside and outside corners, rather
than just straight lines.  The Can-Can was originally just 
the TTime contest while collecting soda cans along the way.

In each case, the "intelligence" of the robot was awarded more
points than just raw speed.   This was thought to encourage the
development of more general purpose robots while still allowing
beginning builders to compete.

For folks who are interested in robot racing, Ed Koffeman has
some neat robot-racers he's been working on that you might want
to talk with him about.  Perhaps the DPRG might want to sponsor
some robotic racing contests.  But I would view it a move in the
wrong direction to have our current contests degenerate into
robot racing, where speed was the deciding factor in determining
the winners.

my $.02 worth, see you saturday,
dpa


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