Computational Linguistics & Phonetics Computational Linguistics & Phonetics Fachrichtung 4.7 Universität des Saarlandes

Communicating Robots with LEGO MindStorms

Course plan

The course is divided into two parts. In the first part, the students get acquainted with the basics in building robots using LEGO MindStorms, and implementing spoken dialog systems using the toolkit we provide. The first part will be rounded off with the assignment to build the plotter from the Ultimate Master Builders Set, and implement it such that it can write down simple, spoken input.

In the second part, the students can let their creativity run riot: The assignment is to build a "cool" robot that can communicate. At the end of the semester, students have to document their projects, and present their robots at a "public" meeting we will organize here at COLI, possibly with some surprise guests.

The workload entailed by this schedule is not trivial. You'll have to learn how to build fairly impressive robots within the first few weeks of the semester, and then you need to come up with a design of your own and implement it. But we're confident that it's all doable in the 8 Semesterwochenstunden that you're supposed to put into the course, and within one semester -- and that both you and we are going to have fun in the process.


      25 October     Kick-off meeting
1 November Basic LeJOS
8 Building principles
15 Advanced topics: Behavior control, advanced navigation in Lejos (tentative)
22 Dialog I: Basic concepts, experiments with existing systems (virtual)
29 Coupling the robot and a dialogue system:
6 December Dialog II: Automata-based dialogues (virtual)
13 Dialog III: Dialogue acts, linguistic considerations (virtual)
20 Project presentations: The talking plotter

The course will be accompanied by homework assignments to build Mindstorms robots, culminating in a plotter-based dictation system just before Christmas.

The second half of the course will follow a less rigid schedule. Students will be required to come up with a concept for their talking robot, and to give a short presentation (ten minutes) in the first week after Christmas break. Then we will have weekly meetings to discuss problems and exchange ideas. In the last session of the semester, every team will present their finished robot, and we all get to play with everybody else's systems.