Wednesday, June 16, 2010


This chess set may be the most awesome thing you see all day. It’s pretty remarkable, but at the same time well within reach of a dedicated group of students armed with some good reference books. (... and $30k worth of legos and computers) It would not surprise me if they said that building the robots took more time than programming them.

The biggest surprise to me, actually, is that they were able to use Bluetooth to control the robots. My experience with Bluetooth in Lego Mindstorms was mostly negative: short range, few control channels. My guess is that they must have the robots listening on shared channels, and prefacing commands with some kind of ID string: that would also explain why so many of the movements are sequential.

Post-match battery charging must be a royal pain in the ass. I also wonder what kind of corrections are needed during a long match: Sensor error and actuator slip accumulate, so that over time, as a robot moves its internal position can get wildly out of sync with its actual position and orientation. With a more sophisticated sensor suite it’s not a trivial task. It must be very difficult with the equipment they appear to have.

Anyway: my hat is off to Team Hassenplug. That’s pretty damn cool.

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