Enigma: Spaco's Quest

The goal of this project was to create a game that would challenge children's spatial awareness skills and help them develop a sense of left, right and forward. The technical solution we worked to create was a flat board divided into a grid to form our maze and a small LEGO Robot that would move from square to square based on directions given to it remotely. The remote directions would be given by buttons pressed controlled by a second EV3. For the prototype testing we succeeded in using a maze runner robot to follow a pre-set list of directions and solve a maze, however we did not succeed in creating device-to-device communication. For prototype testing, we were unable to use our second EV3 controller and instead used printed arrows for the kids to lay out their plan of directions.

Physical Components:

The components used during the testing were a Lego EV3 maze-runner robot, maze board , colored tiles , and printed arrows to represent the directions the kids would want the robot to go.  The robot and board were re-purposed from a previous project, and the tiles and printed arrows were made out of construction paper.

Code:

Since we were unable to make device-to-device communication work in time for the testing, we settled for having the kids select the list of directions and by laying out pictures of arrows that would represent left, right, and forward, which would be manually inputted by a Tufts student into the EV3 as a text file to be read. The robot would then interpret this input data and use the gyro sensor and motors to run the maze.

mazerunner.py

The first video below is an excerpt of the video's taken from the testing day, which shows the kids interacting with the technology and the child development students explaining the the overall game to the kids. The second video shows a test of the robot solving a full maze and crossing multiple tiles.

Takeaways and Future Plans:

Some key insights we gained from developing the prototype were that the using the EV3 for inter-device communication is really difficult because of how slow they are to use, and that implementing an RPi controller would make our lives a-lot easier and increase the amount of work we can do. Another takeaway is that our game is at a good level for the kids to solve and they do get better at solving it and interacting with the technology as our time with them progressed, which shows that our interface/psuedointerface worked with with the kids as the users. We also noticed that the kids enjoyed physically laying out their direction sequence with the direction tiles. The initial plan was for the kids to enter in the directions for the robot via buttons with arrows on them. However, the tiles allowed for the kids to visually see their inputted route which would not have been possible with the button controller.

For the final testing day we plan to fix the device to device communication to make a networked system, use an RPi as the controller to increase the speed at which the whole system runs, and create a push button interface to compliment the graphical one we used in prototyping. We will also be making a entirely new controller so that the kids may enter their direction sequence directly to the robot using tiles. Additionally, we will have the robot say the direction it is currently moving, so that the kids can follow along as the robot moves through their created sequence.