Pinball: Planning and Learning in a Dynamic Real-Time Environment

Nathaniel S. Winstead and Alan D. Christiansen

We are interested in the automation of planning and learning in dynamic physical environments. Recently we have begun to consider the game of pinball as a robotics testbed. Our intention is to build an autonomous learning agent that controls the game and improves its performance over time. We believe that pinball will give us a structured environment in which to investigate issues of planning and learning, while providing the real-world constraints of uncertainty and real-time control. Our work to date has led to a simple, physically realistic pinball simulation, which we are now using to test learning agents. In the future we will have a physical game interfaced to our computer system.

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