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Skip to 0 minutes and 9 seconds Welcome to Begin Robotics, Week Four– Brains, Instinct, and Learning. From the first three weeks, we know about the robots. We know about their anatomy. We know how they can sense what’s going on. We know how to ensure that they move at the correct speed. But how do we decide what they should do, where they should go? Or should the robot decide these things? We’ll explore these ideas, and see how the robot can learn different behaviour. Let’s look at brains in a bit more detail. Brains have neurons, which are simple processing elements. They act very slowly, in fact– much more slowly than a computer, for instance.

Skip to 0 minutes and 50 seconds But the reason why a human can do so much more is because we have billions of these neurons. However, for a robot with only a handful of neurons, you can get some interesting behaviour. For instance, a light sensor connected to one neuron can determine how a motor moves. We’ll see how that works. We can also define behaviour by a set of simple rules. If, for instance, you see something on the left, turn to the right. Having a set of rules like that will allow you to get a robot to explore an environment. But it’s also interesting to see if a robot could learn those simple rules. And then we could consider interaction in life.

Skip to 1 minute and 29 seconds In real life, what you see are various organisms that work together. Ants finding food, for instance. And the behaviour of ants like that has influenced algorithms for searching to solve particular problems. But in real life, not only do you have one species working with each other, but you have different species interacting with other species. This can be beneficial– for instance, insects pollinating flowers. But it can also be destructive. For instance, you can have one animal eating another. Foxes and rabbits are the classic examples. We’re going to explore some of these ideas. We’ll look at other examples. We’ll consider how these ideas can be used, or have been used, in filmmaking and TV.

Skip to 2 minutes and 14 seconds So in this week, we’re going to explore different behaviour, whether it’s instinctive, or whether it’s learned.

Welcome to Week 4

In Weeks 1-3 you learnt about robot anatomy and how they use sensors to detect where they are and how to ensure they move at the correct speed.

This week the focus shifts to robot brains, instinct and learning. In this brief video Richard reflects on the week ahead and draws on examples from nature to introduce some of the key concepts.

Update Monday 27 July at 13:15 GMT

What do you call a gathering of robots? - The results

We’re delighted to announce the winning collective noun for this run of ‘Begin Robotics’ is… network of robots.

In 2nd place was swarm of robots.

3rd place a cluster of robots.

4th place a team of robots.

5th place cloud of robots.

Below are the winners from our previous runs of ‘Begin Robotics’:

9th run - Swarm of robots.

8th run - Swarm of robots.

7th run - Team of robots

6th run - Squad of robots

5th Run - Assembly of robots

4th Run - ASSEMBLIES (Automated Systematic Self Enabling Manifestation Basic Logarithmic Intelligence Exoskeleton Society) of robots

3rd Run - Assembly of robots

2nd Run - Assembly of robots

1st Run - Asimov of robots

What do you think of the results? Let us know in the comments area and thank you for all of your entries and for taking part in the poll.


Just a reminder that this course will be facilitated from the 6 July for 4 weeks (until 2 August) by Ahmed Ashlam, from the Department of Computer Science, University of Reading. He will be supporting the discussions found at the end of each Step during this time. You can ‘follow’ mentors to see their responses to other Learners; you just need to view their profile and click the ‘Follow’ button. By following a profile, any comments made will appear in your activity feed, which you can filter by selecting ‘Following’.

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Begin Robotics

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