September 28, 2016

First Taste of Automation


We are in a world of change right now, a world of technical advancement unlike anything in human history. Computers and the internet have made the world a smaller place. Now robotics and programing are making the world a smarter place. Our generation is on the leading edge in terms of time and enthusiasm for these new-found fields.

Being ready for what is coming

What better way to prepare for the future than to take an in-depth course in robotics and programing with Dr. Ross Mead.  He is a graduate of USC and CEO of  Semio, an artificial intelligence development startup.  To start things off we were introduced to what defines a robot and how its actions are created using programing.  For our class we are using the BotBall competition kit.  This is a good starting point for building an understanding of the basics.

Expanding our creativity

We split into teams and every team had a kit of parts.  Each of the kits came with a set of instructions from the teacher to help guide us through the building phase.  Once we had a robotic chassis we began testing.  Right off the bat we noticed major flaws with our design, that had been intentionally put into the instructions for a challenge.   This initiated a race to find ways to improve upon the existing prototype.  Everyone had different ideas as to how to tackle the problems, bringing on team spirit as well as friendly rivalry with the other groups.  Each group had different ways of overcoming challenges.

Drawing the line

Now that we had a vehicle that was customised to our liking, we needed to program it to interact with the world around it.  

“As hard as it looks, programing is really just a set of rules for the robot to follow.”   – Schooling For Life student   

The teams were given a simple task.  Construct a program to tell the robot to drive forward and around an object and then return to the start point.  We were instructed on the format of the code we were to use, and what instructions related to movement.  The look of excitement on everyone’s faces when the robot began to move was delightful.  This series of classes is an important step toward being prepared to participate in and shape the world to come.