Xemo offers a virtual, interactive robot environment to teach critical thinking and problem solving. Students learn how to coordinate the movement for a humanoid robot with 14 separate joints for a total of 24 degrees of freedom. This provides a great platform for problem solving at multiple levels.
a. How to use a model to explore the problem.
b. How to decompose a problem into its motion parts and tackle each part separately.
c. How to adjust, test and refine a part of the solution to improve the overall solution.
Creating a motion pattern requires the student to study how a particular motion works (using her/his own body) and then to break down the motion into a series of steps. Gravity affects the motion, so an iterative cycle of trial and error is required to achieve the desired motions. This iterative approach encourages perseverance by providing a fast test/reward cycle.
Xemo is still under development, and it consists of the four parts listed below. We are currently testing part 1 with schools. Parts 2 and 3 begin this fall (2016).
1. Motion Pattern Creation
Motion patterns are used to define basic robot movements. Examples are falling over, getting up, rolling over, squatting, jumping, walking.
2. Sharing motions
During our test, we've seen how excited kids are to share the Motions that they create with their peers. Sharing and collaborating is an integral part of the game experience and is used to expand the robot's capability.
3. Sequencing Patterns
More complex robot behavior is achieved by sequencing individual motion patterns, and using sensory information to transition between motions. Examples are walking over to a target object, leaning over, and then picking up the object.
For the competitive minded, the game offers time-trial obstacles courses for the robots. The students uses sequenced motions to move through the course in the shortest time possible. Each challenge offers multiple paths to the end, so it's up to the student to determine the risk/reward payoff for each path.
Virtual, Easy to Start
The robots are virtual, so there is no mechanical hardware to buy and maintain. The ramp-up time for the student is quick, usually less that 10 mins to start controlling the robot movement.
For an example of some of the motion patterns created with Xemo, check the Showcase Video on the Tutorials page.