Guess-and-Check Robotics

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Robots are awesome, but part of why they are so awesome is because they are designed to do stuff. Sometimes we are amazed when robots do something we cannot do ourselves. Other times we are surprised at how well they seem to do human things. In order to make sure inventions (including robots) do exactly what we want them to do, we must test them. In fact, Thomas Edison, one of the greatest inventors of all time once said: “I was always afraid of things that worked the first time”. So in the robotics engineering world we always test new robots and the first time it almost always only sort-of does what we want it to. So then we make an adjustment (either in our program or our robot build) to try to correct the mistake so that the robot does work perfectly. Still, we often have to repeat this guess and check process over and over again. Often, we end up learning more about engineering through our errors than our successes. That’s why Edison was afraid of inventions that worked the first time, he didn’t feel like he understood them well enough! So never get discouraged when your robot doesn’t work perfectly the first trial (a single test time) or even the tenth trial.

If you haven’t already done Line to Line, this may be your first experience of guess-and-check robotics. Because it is not very likely that your robot will finish exactly where you want it to on the first trial, you will probably have to adjust the part of the motor steering brick that controls the number of rotations before your robot will stop on the second line.  Remember where that was again?