Monday, February 16, 2009

Robot Sumo

Yesterday I submitted an entry for the first round of Imagine Cup: Robotics & Algorithm. The first round involves programming the AI for a simulated sumo match between two iRobot Creates. Each robot has a webcam, two bumper sensors, and four IR sensors on the bottom to detect when it is over the outer circle. Here is a simulation of a match in Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio (my AI controls the blue robot):

One thing I dislike about this contest is the fact that the physics engine makes designing a more advanced AI almost completely pointless since when two robots are pushing against each other it is about a 50-50 chance that one will end up below the other and able to push it outside the ring. I tried creating a more advanced strategy to avoid this problem by ramming the other robot and backing away repeatedly, but this just gave the other robot an advantage. The strategy that I ended up submitting has a few tricks such as avoiding repetitive behaviors and randomly choosing between possible actions. However, modifying the AI didn't seem to have any affect on its performance during the matches. Since the matches happen in real-time simulation, it is impossible to simulate a large enough sample size to determine if one strategy is actually superior to another.

I have registered in a team to compete in BattleCode, a programming competition hosted by MIT to design a computer game AI. We haven't started working on it yet, but it looks like it should be a fun project.
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