Somchaya Liemhetcharat
FIRE Project
I worked on the multi-robot communication portion of the FIRE project, together with Manuela Veloso and Howie Choset. Our goal was to develop a curriculum for students at the K-12 level to learn about multi-robot concepts, to generate interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) in the students. We used a variety of robot platforms, such as the Lego Mindstorms NXT, VEX robot kit, and the Arduino microcontroller. We worked closely with the Robotics Academcy of the National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC).

We used ROBOTC, a progamming language that is a subset of C that has been adapted for robot programming. The benefit of using ROBOTC was that the same code could be compiled and downloaded to the different platforms without much (or any) changes. Since we were interested in multi-robot communication, it was essential that the robots were able to communicate. We used XBee radios for communication among the robots, and to a PC if necessary.

We created a series of lessons, that each focused on a critical aspect of multi-robot communication. The details are available here, and below is a short summary of each lesson:

Here are some videos developed during the FIRE project to demonstrate the multi-robot communication concepts:

Every year, the School of Computer Science (SCS) at Carnegie Mellon University holds a workshop called Opportunities for Undergraduate Research in Computer Science (OurCS), where undergraduate women from around the world spend 3 days at CMU, learning about research opportunities, life in graduate school, and the perspectives of faculty and students.

In 2011, we led a group of these students in our lab. Some of them worked on the NAO humanoid robots and some worked on the NXTs. The overall theme was for the students to create a multi-robot stage performance using both types of robots. The students using the NXTs went through some of the multi-robot communication lessons listed above, in addition to learning how to program a robot (the students had experience in CS but not all had worked with robots before the workshop). Below is a video showing the students who worked on the NXTs:

Here is a longer video showing the work done by all the undergraduate students working in our lab during OurCS, and the final presentation they gave: