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Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Participating in an experiment

The "hall of robots" is a fun aspect of the conference. Whether or not they do interesting things or represent scientific advancement is beside the point, The point is that the hall is filled with beeping, twitching pieces of machinery covered with blinking lights, raising the chaos and geek-joy levels all around. Back in one corner, however, there was something special going on, however: a joint NRL/Missouri team who were actually gathering experimental data right here at the conference. I signed up to play with their robots, and got to give them some data as well: during the experiment, you drive the robots through a sketch interface from inside a booth where you can't see them, and outside the passerby can watch them surging about doing the tasks you're assigning them. I thought this was a really neat idea: on the one hand, they get real data gathered --- on the other hand, they have an excellent, changing attraction to attract people's attention.

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