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Using Mobile Robots To Teach Articificial Intelligence Research Skills

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2000 Annual Conference


St. Louis, Missouri

Publication Date

June 18, 2000

Start Date

June 18, 2000

End Date

June 21, 2000



Page Count


Page Numbers

5.697.1 - 5.697.14

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Paper Authors

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Natasha Balac

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Daniel M. Gaines

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2220

Using Mobile Robots to Teach Artificial Intelligence Research Skills Daniel M. Gaines, Natasha Balac Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department Vanderbilt University

Abstract Successful Artificial Intelligence researchers must be able to think creatively and critically, communicate effectively and evaluate the results of their work. Therefore, it is important that we include courses in our curriculum that develop these skills. Since one usually learns best by doing, we believe a project-based course, in which students receive hands-on experience, will be most effective in fostering quality research skills. We also wanted a project that would be fun and exciting, appeal to a wide range of students and allow for explorations in a range of AI topics. We felt that the area of mobile robotics would make an ideal match. The field of mobile robots provides a challenging and exciting arena for developing, applying and evaluating AI techniques. While there are many benefits to incorporating mobile robots into the classroom, starting a mobile robot lab can seem like a daunting, time-consuming task with a steep learning curve and expensive price tag. This is not necessarily the case. The mobile robot lab we describe in this paper was developed in a short time period with relatively little cost, yet it is proving to be a valuable teaching tool. In this paper we describe the design of the course and how mobile robots are used to meet the course objectives of surveying advanced AI concepts and teaching research skills. We evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of using mobile robots that we have observed, including feedback received from students during the semester.

1 Introduction

Being a successful researcher requires a variety of skills including the ability to think creatively and effectively, evaluate work, schedule time and communicate effectively in proposals, reports and presentations. Therefore, it is important that our graduate courses not only provide knowledge of advanced topics, but also help students develop these research skills. We also believe that students learn best through doing. Therefore, we felt a project-based course in which students participated in a small research project would be appropriate. With this in mind, we have designed a graduate course in artificial intelligence that is intended to introduce students to some advanced topics in AI and give them first-hand experience in many aspects of a research project. As part of the project, students design and evaluate a system, write a proposal and report and present their results to the rest of the class.

Balac, N., & Gaines, D. M. (2000, June), Using Mobile Robots To Teach Articificial Intelligence Research Skills Paper presented at 2000 Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri.

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