Preparing the Next Generation in Autonomous Robotics

Lesson 1      Lesson 2      Lesson 3     Lesson 4        Lesson 5     Lesson 6     Lesson 7

Lesson 1: Robot cars and smart cities

Lesson overview

In the first lesson of this unit of work, we will introduce students to the concept of robotics and autonomous cars. Students will discuss what cities in the future will look like, and think about the role that robots and autonomous vehicles will play. Next, your class will work in groups to complete the main challenge of the first lesson: building the robot, then getting it moving around the classroom with the remote control.

Learning outcomes

  • Name a benefit of smart cities

  • Describe characteristics of an autonomous vehicle

  • Compare characteristics of robots and humans

  • Construct a robot

  • Name the basic parts of the robot

  • Control a robot using a simple remote

  • Identify and share problems encountered with solutions

Lesson steps

  1. 360 video opener (5 mins)
    Introduction to smart cities and autonomous vehicles. Students get 360 insight to a driverless car to provide context for this lesson’s challenge: to build a robot vehicle.

  2. Classroom discussion (10 mins)
    Students will discuss the human responses to the three questions of autonomy. Then they will discuss additional differences between robots and humans.

  3. Make (30 mins)
    Build the mBot as per the instruction manual and guidance video.

  4. Test (10 mins)
    Test the mBot works with the remote control.

  5. Reflect (5 mins)
    Students will reflect on their learning, including problems they had and how they solved them.

Lesson 2: Controlling cars with code

Lesson overview

In the second lesson of this unit of work, we will introduce students to the concept of using code to control cars. Your students will discuss how programming a car compares to programming a standard computer. Next, your class will work in groups to complete the main challenge of the second lesson: programming the robot to drive in different shapes around the classroom.

Learning outcomes

  • Understand the difference between hardware and software and how they relate to each other

  • Describe functions carried out by software and hardware

  • Get the robot moving with code

  • Learn about loops (repetition)

  • Debug programs

  • Identify and share problems encountered with solutions

Lesson steps

  1. Video opener (5 mins)
    Introduction to code and its relationship to hardware. This video will set this lesson’s challenge: to control your robot car with code.

  2. Classroom discussion (10 mins)
    Students will discuss the video and think about the hardware and software needed to control a real world autonomous vehicle.

  3. Make (25 mins)
    Introduction to the most common types of motor. Use the robot coding environment for the first time. Learn how to control the DC motors to get the robot moving in simple shapes.

  4. Test (10 mins)
    Test the robot moves as expected.

  5. Reflect (10 mins)
    Students will reflect on their learning, including problems they had and how they solved them. The class will discuss how the robot car would behave differently on different surfaces and how they would compensate for this.

Lesson 3: Where am I?

In the third lesson of this unit of work, your class will learn about the role of mapping in autonomous vehicles. They will then be challenged to make their robot vehicle follow a path using new hardware and software. Students will learn about how the line follower sensor on the mBot works, then use the sensor data and logic-based code to autonomously control their robots. Finally, they will relate this activity to real world driverless vehicles and discuss the other sensors needed to make driving efficient and safe.

Learning outcomes

  • Understand why mapping is important for programming autonomous cars

  • Describe functions carried out by software and hardware

  • Describe how a line follower functions

  • Apply logic to get a robot to follow a defined path

  • Debug programs

  • Identify and discuss ways of solving the same problem under different conditions

Lesson steps

  1. Video opener (5 mins)
    An introduction to mapping, the video will set this lesson’s challenge: to make the robot follow a path.

  2. Classroom discussion (10 mins)
    Students will discuss the video. How do humans know which way to go? How do we know where we are? How do we teach robots to know which way to go?

  3. Make (25 mins)
    Introduction to the line follower hardware and how to control it with code. Define and follow ‘rules of the road’ using table-based code.

  4. Test (10 mins)
    Test the robot moves as expected.

  5. Reflect (10 mins)
    Students will reflect on their learning, including problems they had and how they solved them. They will then discuss how different road conditions might affect the robot and how this might affect the code.

Lesson 4: What is around me?

Lesson overview

In the fourth lesson of this unit of work, your class will learn about obstacles and sensors. They will discuss the risks that a smart city presents, focusing on the challenges that an autonomous vehicle faces while navigating in the real world. They will then learn about the ultrasonic sensor on board the robot and how to use it to avoid obstacles. Finally, they will think about how driving speed can influence a vehicle’s ability to react to obstacles.

Learning outcomes

  • Describe what smart cities are and give examples of smart city initiatives

  • Describe risks for autonomous vehicles in smart cities

  • Describe how an ultrasonic sensor functions

  • Apply code and sensor output to navigate around an obstacle

  • Debug programs

  • Identify and share ways of solving problems

Lesson steps

  1. Video opener (5 mins)
    An introduction to smart cities and risk. The video will set this lesson’s challenge: to get the robot to notice and react to obstacles.

  2. Classroom discussion (10 mins)
    Students will discuss the video. What risks can they think of that their autonomous car will need to notice and avoid?

  3. Make (25 mins)
    Introduction to the ultrasonic sensor hardware and how to control it with code. students should code the robot to stop when it detects an obstacle, then react and manoeuvre around obstacles of known and unknown sizes.

  4. Test (10 mins)
    Test the robot moves as expected. Does it react in time or crash into the obstacle?

  5. Reflect (10 mins)
    Students will reflect on their learning, including problems they had and how they solved them. Does how quickly your robot drive have an effect on how good it is at this challenge?

Lesson 5: Safety and signaling

Lesson overview

In the fifth lesson of this unit of work, your class will learn about how technology and people interact. They will learn about signalling movement and giving warnings with light and sound. Students will use code to control their robot car’s LEDs and buzzer to produce lights and sounds for a variety of different scenarios.

They will then combine an input — the ultrasonic sensor — and an output — the LEDs and buzzer — to create a proximity sensor. Finally, they will discuss the other sensors and signals they think would be useful for their robots and autonomous vehicles in real life.

Learning outcomes

  • Understand what we mean by signalling and why it is needed to keep people safe

  • Discuss the best ways for robots to signal to humans

  • Understand, describe and control LEDs and buzzers

  • Integrate inputs (ultrasonic sensor) to outputs (LEDs or buzzer)

  • Debug programs

  • Identify and share problems encountered with solutions

Lesson steps

  1. Video opener (5 mins)
    Introduction to safe cities and driverless cars. Today’s challenge is to signal your robot cars’ movements and point out hazards using lights and sound.

  2. Classroom discussion (10 mins)
    Students will discuss the video and talk about the variety of ways computers and humans ‘talk’ to each other.

  3. Make (25 mins)
    Introduction to the LEDs and buzzer hardware and how to control them with code. They should be able to signal movements with light and noise, then create a proximity warning using the ultrasonic sensor.

  4. Test (10 mins)
    Test the robot works as expected. What have you learned from the other groups’ approach to signalling?

  5. Reflect (10 mins)
    Students will reflect on their learning, including problems they had and how they solved them.

Lesson 6: What do I do next?

Lesson overview

In the sixth lesson of this unit of work, your class will learn about some of the ways in which technology has failed in the past, and how engineers have worked to overcome those problems. They will then look back over the hardware and software they have been using in the past five lessons and combine these skills to complete challenges. This lesson should be used as an opportunity to consolidate learning, revisit any shaky territory and experiment with combinations of inputs, outputs and different ways of coding the mBot.

Learning outcomes

  • Understand that failure is an important part of technology development

  • Describe how failure and persistence can help them learn

  • Link a variety of inputs to a variety of outputs using code

  • Debug programs

  • Share learning

  • Identify and share problems encountered with solutions

Lesson steps

  1. Video opener (5 mins)
    Introduction to learning through failure. Today’s challenge is to look back at the skills the class have learned and combine them to complete one or more of the challenges.

  2. Classroom discussion (5 mins)
    Students will discuss the video and what they have learned by ‘getting it wrong’ the first time. Students will then choose one or more of the challenges to complete.

  3. Make (30 mins)
    Students will revisit the learning from the past five lessons and combine hardware and software skills to solve at least one of the challenges.

  4. Test (10 mins)
    Test the robot works as expected. Each group should share what challenge they chose and complete a brief demonstration.

  5. Reflect (10 mins)
    Students will reflect on their learning, including problems they had and how they solved them.

Lesson 7: Designing our smart city

Lesson overview

In the last section of this unit of work, your class will take part in a Design Thinking Workshop that can be delivered as three one hour sessions or combined as a half day activity.

In part one of the workshop, your class will use personas to empathise with different types of people. They will then use these insights to brainstorm ways that robots and autonomous vehicles can improve lives or solve problems.

Learning outcomes

  • Understand that design is a process

  • Name at least one job associated with design

  • Describe basic design thinking techniques

  • Understand that issues affect people in different ways

  • Empathise with different people and describe how they might see the world

  • Think creatively to generate solutions to problems

  • Share and evaluate their own ideas

Lesson steps

  1. Video opener (5 mins)
    Introduction to design thinking. This workshop’s challenge is to use design to solve the problems of citizens living in a city of the future.

  2. Classroom discussion (10 mins)
    Students will discuss the video and share ways they’ve solved problems in that past.

  3. Design thinking: empathise (15 mins)
    Students will use character personas to empathise with different people and their travel related problems.

  4. Design thinking: ideate (20 mins)
    Students will complete a class brainstorming activity then work in groups to brainstorm ideas to make life better for the character personas.

  5. Reflect (10 mins)
    Students will reflect on their brainstorming activity then share their best and worst ideas.

Follow me

© 2017 by Steve Efe
 

Call

T: 443-885-3192

Contact

Baltimore, Maryland steve.efe@morgan.edu

  • Facebook Clean
  • Twitter Clean
  • White Google+ Icon