Dickson Post

Dickson student helps teach AI robots to play hide-and-seek

AI for Robotics class members, from left: Dallas Yarnell, Sean Janiec, Lou Joseph, Allison Walker, Brigitte Turner, Dr. Ben Clark, Bryce Greene and Addison Adcock pose with their robotics after the hide-and-seek game on May 4, 2023. PHOTO COURTESY OF FREED-HARDEMAN

It was a final project full of fun, experimentation and laughter. Seven students in Dr. Ben Clark’s AI for Robotics class at Freed-Hardeman University put weeks’ worth of research into determining if three robots could “play” a game of hide-and-seek effectively on May 4.

The students organized in three teams to program their individual robots – Kenan Jr. (named after another Computer Science faculty member Dr. Kenan Casey), R0B and Baymacs. The robots are Create 3 robots, educational versions of the popular household vacuum appliance, the Roomba. Decked out with two heart shaped stickers at its back, Kenan Jr.’s objective was to “seek” Baymacs and R0B that were “hiding.”

Among the students who were part of the final project was Bryce Greene of Dickson, who is earning a Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity.

As the robots moved, they produced a mechanical whirring sound on the third floor of the Brown-Kopel Business building. The students rearranged the lobby furniture to give Baymacs and R0B more nooks and crannies to hide. Kenan Jr. equipped with a camera on top slowly moved trying to detect one of the 3-D printed stop-signs placed on Baymacs and R0B. This was done using automatic object detection software, a type of Artificial Intelligence.

The teams had to work together to troubleshoot technical problems including checking the camera on Kenan Jr. to make sure it detected objects and helping it make a U-turn.

After a few starts and stops, the students got the robots to detect one another.

“This project has been successful,” said Clark, FHU’s director of computer science and digital innovation. “A lot of work has gone into getting these robots moving, mapping, and looking. I think one of the major wins is the understanding of how many things have to work together for robots to do such a coordinated activity. The semester has been a blast working with the students to learn not just these tools but how to learn to use new tools in general.”

The mission of Freed-Hardeman University is to help students develop their God-given talents for His glory by empowering them with an education that integrates Christian faith, scholarship and service. With locations in Henderson and Memphis, FHU offers bachelor’s, master’s, specialist’s and doctoral degrees. More information is available at fhu.edu.