Launching into AI's "October Sky with Robotics and Lisp

Frank Klassner

Abstract


Robotics projects coupled with agent-oriented trends in artificial intelligence education have the potential to make introductory AI courses at liberal arts schools the gateway for a large new generation of AI practitioners. However, this vision's achievement requires programming libraries and low-cost platforms that are readily accessible to undergraduates and easily maintainable by instructors at sites with few dedicated resources. This article presents and evaluates one contribution toward implementing this vision: the RCXLisp library. The library was designed to support programming of the Lego Mindstorms platform in AI courses with the goal of using introductory robotics to motivate undergraduates' understanding of AI concepts within the agent-design paradigm. The library's evaluation reflects four years of student feedback on its use in a liberal-arts AI course whose audience covers a wide variety of majors. To help establish a context for judging RCXLisp's effectiveness this article also provides a sketch of the Mindstormsbased laboratory in which the library is used.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1609/aimag.v27i1.1863

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