Robert Hrabchak, Riley Kolus, Meha Elhence, Hyejin Im, Kyle Paul
The Emat team sought to teach emotional literacy to 5-7 year old students. The robot Quinn acted as our character with dynamic emotional expression, moving around a color wheel as its emotions changed along with the children's emotions. At the end of the dialogue, the students could see a physical representation of how Quinn's emotions changed over time.
Our technical solution for having Quinn react to different prompts was to create a wirelessly controlled mobile robot platform. We used an Arduino Uno with a motor shield and two motors to drive Quinn around the board. We then added an XBee module to allow for wireless inputs to tell the robot when and where to move to. The Arduino recieved the serial inputs, and used two sensors to drive to the correct location on the board. A line sensor was mounted on the bottom, near the board, so that the robot would drive continuously along a ring around the board. A separate color sensor was mounted above the board, so that the robot knew to stop when it was located above the correct color.
Some of the challenges associated with this technique were due to the specific sensors used. The ir line sensors needed to be located in a very particular range of 2-5mm from the board. The color sensor was not particularly sensitive or repeatable, so it needed to be carefully calibrated each time the Arduino was turned on. The board that we printed had ten differently colored regions, and an outer and inner ring. The color sensor needed to be accurate enough to distinguish between the ten zones, and the ir line following sensor was given the capability to drive between the outer and inner circles when prompted.
The final testing showed that the robot worked and the kids were entertained by the game. More importantly, the users demonstrated a better understanding of the emotional spectrum after identifying which of the robots faces related with which emotions.