Bonaventure Undergraduate Robotics Laboratory
|PeopleBot entering an office supervised by John Postl '11|
The Bonaventure Robotics Laboratory supports the integration of robotics into the undergraduate computer science curriculum and permits experimentation with behavior control algorithms. The lab is located in room 103 of the William F. Walsh Science Center. The director of the lab is Dr. Robert Harlan.
The lab has an Adept MobileRobots PeopleBot robot, acquired through a 2007 grant from the George I. Alden Trust. The robot supports the Department's Inside the Mind of a Robot project, which aims to develop a software system that enables the robot to perform tasks autonomously in a human environment. The guiding idea behind the project is that the robot will act in and reason about the environment in the same way that humans do, thereby enabling the robot to communicate its reasoning to humans. The first part of the project, enabling the robot to find its way to an office in Walsh using a topological map, was completed in April, 2011, and is discussed in the lab's Technical Report 10.
The robotics lab supports the
Department's Robotics and Computer Vision course, CS 342,and
original research under faculty supervision by its undergraduates.
Eight undergraduates have served as authors and co-authors of the labs technical
reports listed below.
About the Robotics Lab
The lab was established in 1997 to support a robotics course. We purchased four "MIT-style" autonomous robots robots based upon the Handy Board micro-controller and Legos. Students experimented with basic behavior control algorithms. The capstone project was Cabbie, an autonomous robot that could navigate between locations in an abstract downtown Manhattan.
Robert Harlan and David Levine wrote a successful National Science Foundation CCLI-AI grant application to expand the lab and to integrate it into the undergraduate curriculum. The grant, awarded in May of 2000, enabled the purchase of the Khepera miniature robots. This platform was selected because it permits the development of large programs that run on a host computer and communicate with the robot via a tether. Each robotic workstation has a PC running Linux, a Khepera robot and a four-foot square environment within which to experiment with control algorithms. The lab also had turrets to support object manipulation and computer vision which can be added to the Khepera platform. It also has a larger Koala robot to permit real-world experimentation.
department has developed an object-oriented
interface for the Khepera robots in C++, which it makes available for non-commercial
use free of charge through the GNU General Public License.
The Khepera robots were retired in 2010.
The four-foot tall Adept MobileRobotics PeopleBot robot discussed above was purchased throught the George I. Alden grant in 2007. One or two upper division undergraduates work on the Inside the Mind of a Robot project. The coding of programs controlling the robot’s behavior, planning and reasoning have been and will continue to be developed by computer science undergraduates. “It will provide them with a platform for developing real-time, mission-critical software,” Harlan said, adding that students in other disciplines will be able to design and conduct experiments on how humans interact with the robot.
The PeopleBot will enable Dr. Anne Foerst, a theologian, a member of the Computer
Science Department and a co-author of the Alden grant with Harlan, to continue
her experimentation with human-robot interaction begun at the Artificial
Intelligence Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Foerst,
co-author of the grant and an internationally known expert on human-robot
interaction, is the author of God in the Machine, a book that examines what
robots can teach us about being human.
BARD: The Bonaventure Autonomous Robot Delivery System
Bonaventure Bonaventure Undergraduate Robotics Laboratory Technical Report 3, April 2000
Shelly McClarigan '00
BARD uses a topological map of an office complex model to plan and carry out delivery tasks. It was developed using a Khepera robot.
This paper presents two labs that enable
undergraduate students to create emergent behavior, behavior that is not
programmed by the roboticist but that emerges from the interaction of
lower-level behaviors and the environment.
Emergent Behavior Labs
Inside the Mind of a Robot. A multi-year
project to enable a robot to plan and carry out actions in
the Walsh Science Center and to be able to both accept
commands in English and to explain its reasoning behind its
plans. The project will also investigate how humans interact
Spring, 2008 - Present
Robert M. Harlan
Graphical Simulator Using the kRobot Interface
Greta Heissenberger '05
Flaky: The Robot Explorer
Catherine Mellon '01
Brian Zimmel '02
Cabbie: A Centralized
Student Lab Solutions from CS 342, Robotics and Computer Vision
The Bonaventure Robotics Laboratory and the work conducted there was developed in part by the National Science Foundation's Course, Curriculum and Laboratory Improvement -- Adaptation and Innovation Program, DUE- 9980999.
Computer Science Home
This page last updated:
July 13, 2012