Collaborator: Eric Schweikardt
roBlocks (now Cubelets) is a computational construction kit that encourages users to experiment and play with a collection of sensor, logic and actuator blocks, exposing them to a variety of advanced concepts including kinematics, feedback and distributed control. This modular robot building set embodies a parallel distributed computing model. Unlike central-brain, top-down command-and-control models that conventional robotics construction kits employ, a parallel distributed computing model accounts for emergent phenomena in the world. A progressively multimodal interface presents novice users with a simple tangible set of robot building blocks, and advanced users are provided with software tools to analyze and rewrite the programs embedded in each block.
Users tend to begin exploring the system through a series of simple robot patterns but quickly progress to more involved constructions. Many years before they learn formally about hierarchy and modularity, children can develop intuitions about these concepts by designing modular robots. Additionally, young users often spontaneously engage in creative debugging practices.
2014 Beyond Top Down: Designing with Cubelets, Gross MD, Veitch C, Journal of Technology, Society and Knowledge (Revista Tecnologias, Sociedade e Conhecimento). [pdf]
2008 Learning About Complexity with Modular Robots, Schweikardt E. and Gross, M. Proc. IEEE Digital Game and Intelligent Toy Enhanced Learning (DIGITEL), Banff, Canada November 16-19. pp.116-123 [pdf]
2008 The Robot is the Program: Interacting with roBlocks, Schweikardt, E., and Gross, M.D., Proceedings, Tangible and Embedded Interaction (TEI) 2008, Bonn, Germany, pp 167-168. [pdf]
2007 roBlocks: Understanding Emergent Complexity from the Bottom Up, Schweikardt, Eric and M.D. Gross, RSS 2007: Robotics Science and Systems Workshop on Research in Robots for Education, June 27-30, 2007, Atlanta, GA.[pdf]
2006 roBlocks: A Robotic Construction Kit for Mathematics and Science Education, Schweikardt, Eric and M.D. Gross, Proceedings ACM International Conference on Multimedia Interaction (ICMI), Banff, Canada, Nov 2-4 2006, pp. 72-75. [pdf]