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[DPRG] A Modest Proposal

Subject: [DPRG] A Modest Proposal
From: Karim Virani karim at bigthought.org
Date: Wed Mar 5 19:04:10 CST 2014

How dare you, sir.  Not only is your modest proposal actually modest, but it also fails to be both unreasonable and irrational.  Further it viciously impugns our beliefs that we each shall surmount all the various minor capabilities required of our mechanical contraptions. Our personal delusions lie at the core of our humanity and thus are sacrosanct. One wonders whether you were compelled to offer this proposal on behalf of your cold and calculating creations.

OK, so let's assume that I agree with just about everything you said.  Further, I recognize that you are pretty much the only member who has consistently demonstrated a robot that is able to avoid moving obstacles and still proceed toward a particular goal.  I remember you trying to obstruct SR04 and forcing it to move around you to deliver a can back at one of the last classic can can competitions at the old science plan - probably a decade ago. So you are really just lowering the bar for the rest of us in your inimitably warm and gracious manor.

Yet I still find myself disagreeing with your recommendation.  If the goal of the contest is to fairly judge the true capabilities of each of our evolving entries, then the proposal makes perfect sense.  If instead, the goal is to get maximum entertainment and public buy-in at a premier venue like the Perot, then a head to head contest would be better - even if the robots just wander about bashing into each other, the walls and running over cans.  The latter is the actual premise that the contest was designed around if I recall correctly.  Of course that presumes that 1. we are actually confirmed for the Perot (Doug?) and that 2. we still wish to pursue the original premise. The fine points of the various capabilities of our robots is something that will be understood by only the few of us involved in building them.  I'd happily sacrifice some fairness and predictability in order to draw in some fresh interest.

Best Regards,

Karim

________________________________________
From: dprglist-bounces at dprg.org <dprglist-bounces at dprg.org> on behalf of David Anderson <davida at smu.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, March 05, 2014 4:03 PM
To: dprglist
Subject: [DPRG] A Modest Proposal

Greetings Fellow Roboteers,

Runnning my best attempt at the DPRG CanCan Soccer contest with SR04
over the weekend, and conferring with some of the other teams' members,
it looks like the problems associated with 1) sensing and locating the
cans, 2) capturing them in some way, 3) locating the goal, 4) delivering
the cans thereto, and 5) doing all of this repeatedly, are the major
areas of R&D that everyone (myself included) are currently trying to solve.

Adding the complication of sensing and avoiding the other robot, not to
mention the problems involved in sensing and avoiding the judge, (who
will at times also be in the competition space to "immediately remove"
any secondary cans the robot might have collided with) seems beyond what
most teams are currently working on.  Doug has tried to address this
problem with a fairly complex set of rules regarding "collisions" and
who can call "reset" and under what conditions. All of this is, at this
time, untested.

Understanding that the DPRG CanCan Soccer rules for 2014a are pretty
much cast in concrete, I nonetheless have a modest proposal: Run the
robots one at a time.

All the other rules remain the same.  The Robot with the most cans at
the end of its 10 minute run is the winner, and ties will be decided by
the fastest times.

When we have a group of robots that can successfully do the 5 tasks
listed above (probably not what will happen at 2014a), then we can have
them go head-to-head.  This modest proposal allows the teams to
concentrate this time around on the main goals (no pun) of the contest
itself, and show the performance of their solutions in the best possible
light.

Having the robots go head-to-head involves a whole new group of
problems, which are probably best solved once you have a robot that is
already able to solve the 5 basic tasks.   Further, head-to-head
competition inevitably invites counter-measures.  I can think of half a
dozen off the top of my head, all that lay within the letter and spirit
of the rules.   Seems like that sort of thing should be reserved for a
more advanced contest.

As an aside, I found this weekend that "immediately removing" any
secondary cans and returning them "to their original locations"
invariably interferes with both the offending robot and the
non-offending robot, because of the presence of a large object, the
judge, within the contest boundary.  Has anybody else actually tried
this?  This rule may need to be revisited for the next contest in 2014b.

modestly,
dpa

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