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[DPRG] A Modest Proposal

Subject: [DPRG] A Modest Proposal
From: paradug paradug at gmail.com
Date: Wed Mar 5 22:48:25 CST 2014

    I think Karim has it right.
Doug P.

-----Original Message----- 
From: Karim Virani
Sent: Wednesday, March 05, 2014 7:04 PM
To: dprglist ; davida at smu.edu
Subject: Re: [DPRG] A Modest Proposal

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,


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

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.


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