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My diabolical plans move on apace; a new generation of infernal contraptions has sprung from the twisted machinations of my technologickal laboratory. No longer fully a slave to it’s programming, the newest addition to my mechanical throng can truly be said to be an automaton.

This most recent task in my COGS lab was once again to traverse a maze, but this time without pre-programming the route. Rather, using just two light sensors, our task was to create a vehicle capable of finding it’s own way – officially called Agent-Environment Interaction. This was a much more rewarding task than the previous Internal Representation lab…

We opted for a faster design than we’d used previously, reasoning that what the vehicle lacked in accuracy it could correct on its own. It is well known that any connected maze can be solved by simply following on wall, so this was what we tried first, but we found it to be too slow, and so went for a hybrid strategy. The robot would drive mostly straight but with a slight list to the left, which would bring it into contact with the left wall fairly regularly. From there, whenever it hit a wall the robot would reverse and correct it’s course. This worked fairly well with the exception of a oscillatory behaviour which would cause it to get stuck in corners. This was corrected with a subroutine which measured the number of times the robot was turning each direction, and would turn it farther if it determined it was stuck.

In the end our strategy proved successful, and we once again reigned victorious. This will no doubt bring us great fame. As my friend Tyler quipped, “I hear robots avoiding black tape is a booming industry. Obviously he is unaware of the recent discovery of Zebracus Alpha, a small planet in the outer solar system whose geographical features are entirely delineated by black lines. We’re hoping to win the NASA grant to develop the lander.

Artist's conception of Zebracus Alpha

Artists conception of Zebracus Alpha

Thanks again to my group members, Cam and Andrew.