About Me

Let’s see.  What can I tell you about me.

As you can see from this blog, I am passionate about the Lego Mindstorms robotics kits and programming autonomous mobile robots using TFR_20060204_8259behavior-based programming.  My goal with this blog is to post articles about this architecture, demonstrate working robots, supply a framework and set of behaviors you can download and try, and to collaborate with other people who enjoy similar things.

Like most of you, I started playing with Lego bricks when I was a kid.  It was my dream to create remote controlled cars, and machines that moved.  I enjoy looking at the houses, knights, mini-figs, etc… but I like the world to move and act.

3Dsimulator-transIn 2001 I was fortunate enough to receive (beg, cry, plead for) a Lego Mindstorms 1.5 Robotics Inventions System.  I did not like the “block” programming, but did like that I could get started right out of the box.  At some point I found Not-Quite-C and started to program all sorts of robots.

In 2007 I received a Lego Mindstorms NXT 1.0 robotics kit.  FANTASTIC!  It was everything the RCX was not.  Bluetooth communications made connection easier, it had more memory, more sensor inputs, motors with build-in tachos, AWESOME.

True to my geek nature, During this timeframe I have collected many robot programming and building books.  I plan to create a list to post on this site.  I learned about subsumption, and behavior-based programming here and there and started piecing together my framework.  Unfortunately, it seemed like some very, very intelligent people talked about this architecture, but very few, if any, posted real examples I could use translate to Mindstorms.  The articles were all super technical white-papers on theory.  code?  What code!

I wanted to change all that.  I think everyone should have the opportunity to try behavior-based programming.  My favorite part of this process is when the robot executes are few behaviors and appears to “think” and “reason” how to solve a problem.  Or better yet, when its emerged behavior totally surprises me and it does something completely unexpected.

Don’t forget to leave comments and let me know what you are working on.

PS – While programming is fun, you may also notice, I am certainly not the best mechanical engineer.  I need to work on that.

Other Interests:

* By day I manage a software development team

* I am a part-time portrait photographer

* I play ice-hockey whenever I get the chance

* I like to go on multi-day backpacking trips where I explore the wilderness (and not see another sole).

  1. July 22, 2009 at 8:57 am

    Thom, great site! Thanks for making your designs and code available… it’s a very useful resource.

    I’m also interested in behavioral-based robotics, using Lego Mindstorms (among others) to try experiments. So far I have built a simple robot, more like a Humvee really, that roams around and avoids objects. What’s neat is that it can carry a small laptop (I have a Fujitsu Lifebook P1610) and a webcam, with the eventual goal of adding robot vision using OpenCV. Your articles have inspired me to blog about it.

    BenB

  2. December 23, 2010 at 7:37 am

    Thanks for all the great material and information. I’m
    gearing up to be a merit badge counselor for the new Boy Scout
    Robotics Merit Badge to be offered starting in April and your site
    will be a very useful source. Despite rumors to to contrary, this
    is not just a ploy to get my wife to buy me to Mindstorms NXT 2.0
    for Christmas. Keep up the good work! John

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