Leveraging laptops: Resources for Low-cost Low-level AI

Zachary Dodds

The ubiquity and capability of off-the-shelf laptop computers offer AI educators remarkable opportunities to reach broadly across the subfields of AI. By leveraging student laptops, instructors can make so-called low-level subfields of artificial intelligence — for example, computer vision and robotics—almost as accessible as investigations into higher-level topics that might rely less on sensors and actuators. At Harvey Mudd College we have developed two "lines" of laptop-controlled robots. The first, based on iRobot's vacuums, provides an inexpensive and autonomous platform suitable for indoor, human-scale environments. The second, built atop PowerWheels toys, offers a capable, low-cost base for large, outdoor navigation and planning tasks. Both platforms enable cost- and time-effective undergraduate engagement in the ongoing community of robot- and vision-themed venues, exhibitions, contests, and conferences.

Subjects: 17. Robotics; 8. Enabling Technologies

Submitted: Feb 17, 2008

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