Robot Jurassic Park

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The BEAM Glossary says:

  • The term coined by Mark Tilden to describe an enclosed area in which BEAMrobots can safely be allowed to roam around freely.

[edit] On Making a Better RJP

On Feb 14, 2000, in response to a discussion on the alt-beam email list, Mark Tilden posted the following description on how to construct a top notch Robot Jurasic Park

Hi. Having set up many such parks, here's some advice.

Floor surfaces should be kitchen counter eggshell arborite, with beighe insets and 8-inch black arborite "islands" scattered around the surface in a sort of "golf green" fashion. It is important that the inside floor colors be mostly white to avoid heat buildup that can warp the table and damage the bots. The floor should be very smooth with care taken so there are no cracks between arborite insets, not even around the walls. The height of the park should be forty inches from the floor with six inch high walls and a 1/4 inch thick sealed plexiglass cover. On the sides of the case you should have equal areas of ¼ plexiglass windows and steel grating to allow for airflow and sound exchange. For best behavior, the inside walls should be painted flat black (keeps bots from hugging the walls), and the obstacles a gloss sky-blue (attracts bots but not overly so).

If you're using Dave’s standard photopoppers, then you must also put 4 inch high blue wedges in each corner to keep the robots from getting stuck (the inside arena will then have octagon type sides). All wedges and obstacles should be 4 inches high, very smooth, and held down by silicon seal with NO cracks along the bottom to get antennae stuck in. Arena obstacles should be round disks between 2 and 8 inches wide. Four spread out randomly is usually enough.

Cycling halogen lights is annoying and reduces their lifetime considerably. The best method we've found is to drop 200 watt clear, non-frosted lights from the ceiling directly overhead using conventional electrical cladding. The lights must be inside aluminum light-shades and placed a minimum of 2 feet above the centerline of the park so that parents can reach them but little kids can not. People will realize that moving the lights affects behavior which will create a similar effect to cycling. Use one 200 watt bulb placed equidistant from each other for every 2 cubic meters of arena space.

If you can get it, a very light layer of fine white sand over the cleaned surface will allow your bots to create tracks so that people can see where they've been. Use six photopoppers for every two meters of area, and modify them so that their eyes are at different angles up, down, and sideways. Also give some robots the 5 volt solar cell instead of the 3 volt normally used making them much faster. If possible, paint the circuit boards of the different ones so that people will notice their distinctiveness. Also, whatever you do, take great care in the manufacture of the robots to insure their extended lifetime in the park. Cover the antennae with teflon wire insulation to keep them from getting caught in other robots and cracks.

It is very important you set up your arena so that the robots are sealed but not accessible to visitors. We've lost many such robots due to theft,


Mark W. Tilden,
Robotics Physicist

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