Code Yourself!

My friend, Areti Manataki, is one of the co-organisers of this excellent MOOC on Coursera, entitled “Code Yourself! An Introduction to Programming“. As the blurb on Coursera says, “Have you ever wished you knew how to program, but had no idea where to start from? This course will teach you how to program in Scratch, an easy to use visual programming language. More importantly, it will introduce you to the fundamental principles of computing and it will help you think like a software engineer.”

I like the emphasis on basics, and the desire to reach the broad audience of pre-college children. Many MOOCs I encounter are just college courses recycled. Instead, if MOOCs are to matter, and if they are to matter in the ways MOOCs are ambitiously advertised – i.e., in the developing world and in pursuit of helping new students who would not be otherwise served by existing formal programmes, this is the kind of entry point from which I’d expect to see progress.

I  made a small contribution to this course, by giving a guest interview about our work with the RoboCup project – as a case study. If you go to this course, you’ll find this under Unit 3 as “(Optional Video) Interview on football-playing robots [08:41]“.

Intention prediction among goalkeepers

How is it that goal keepers manage to ever save any penalty shots, beating the striker in the incredibly little time available?

This brief video in the online version of The Economist outlines a few quite different attributes to their thought process, not to mention the not so explicitly conscious reflexes. Even at this cursory level, it is interesting how many different modalities are involved – learning from the striker’s historical kicks, randomised strategies in the spirit of game theory, face processing to extract subtle cues, psychological intimidation, etc.

My student, Aris Valtazanos, and I wondered about this problem in one of our papers associated with our football playing robots, but clearly we are unable to capture this whole variety of interactive intelligence. It would be cool when one day we have agents that can actually function at this level!


Symposium Organization

I am participating in the organization of a few events that relate to robotics and AI.

With co-organizers, Mohan Sridharan, Fangkai Yang and Volkan Patoglu, we have approval to conduct a symposium on Knowledge Representation and Reasoning in Robotics as part of the AAAI Spring Symposium Series 2014. Watch this space for more information on this in due course.

Also, I am helping Sven Behnke, Daniel D. Lee and Klaus Dorer organize the 8th Workshop on Humanoid Soccer Robots at the IEEE-RAS International Conference on Humanoid Robots 2013, in Atlanta. The web site for this workshop will be up shortly, but the site for the last year’s workshop should be instructive.

RoboCup TV

Our team, Edinferno, is getting ready for the first match of this robot football world cup season, in Eindhoven.

Some of the games are being broadcast on streaming video:

As is typical, a lot of elbow grease has gone into the creation of our robot team. The human team behind the curtain mainly consists of Aris Valtazanos, Efstathios Vafeias, Alejandro Bordallo Mico and Nantas Nardelli. I am proud of their work!