Robots and Robot Venues: Resources for AI Education
Papers from the AAAI Spring Symposium
Douglas Blank, Zachary Dodds, Paul Rybski, Jerry Weinberg, and Holly Yanco, Cochairs
Many undergraduate educators have embraced autonomous robots over the past decade. In tandem, the number and popularity of robot-themed exhibitions and competitions has surged. These venues spark interest in AI, motivate class or research projects, and invite students into communities that extend beyond the walls of their particular institution. Yet obstacles to participation can be substantial: they include robots’ time-and-money costs, curricular constraints, and the competitiveness underlying some robotic venues. This symposium will explore the undergraduate educational space involving autonomous robots, with an eye toward optimizing robots’ and robot venues’ effectiveness under these and other very real constraints.
The major goal of the symposium was to bring together hardware, software, and curriculum designers, interested educators, and robot contest or exhibition organizers. We investigated how educators can leverage autonomous robots and robot-themed venues as educational experiences for their students, particularly in an undergraduate setting. Participant presentations, panels, exhibitions, and break-out sessions formed the core of the symposium. All of these program elements built upon a core set of questions:
- What makes robot competitions and exhibitions inviting, worthwhile, and feasible for newcomers; what features will keep teams and schools returning?
- How can educators maximize the motivation and impact of robots and robot venues for their students while minimizing time-and-money costs?
- How might emerging hardware and software resources lower the barriers to robot use and robot-themed community building?
- What curricular strategies enable student participation at robot venues or support robotic research projects, while remaining realistic and workable?