AAAI Publications, 2010 AAAI Spring Symposium Series

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Teaching Robotics and Computer Science with Pinball Machines
Daniel Wong, Darren Earl, Fred Zyda, Sven Koenig

Last modified: 2010-03-23


Roboticists need to have a solid understanding of hardware and software. The standard computer science education in the United States, however, tends to teach students only about software. To remedy this situation, we explore new ways of teaching them about hardware in a playful way. Realizing that pinball machines are simple robots, we have developed a pinball machine interface between a PC and a recent Lord of the Rings pinball machine, which enables students to implement pinball games and gain knowledge of hardware and interface programming in the process. This paper describes both our pinball machine interface and our experience developing it. As far as we know, this is the first time that anyone has managed to control an existing pinball machine completely.

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