Knight Rover Robotics Initiative

When you want to learn about robotics where do you begin?
The Mind Project’s “Knight Rover Robotics Initiative” has the goal of generating a robotics kit and curriculum modules that will enable students (a) to learn many important principles of robotic design and (b) to construct and program their own complex robots. Making use of low-cost, readily available hardware (including sensors, motors, and a Raspberry Pi for a brain), our new open source software – the “RObotics Orchestration Kit” (ROOK for short) – is designed so that students at every level of expertise in computer programming, from novice to experienced programmer, will be challenged as they learn to design increasingly complex robots and, thereby, to contribute to the community’s expanding inventory of hardware and software tools.

  • Phase one of the Knight Rover Initiative was completed in the spring of 2017. The GoPiGo hardware kit and the ROOK software were evaluated for their educational potential and passed with flying colors.
  • Phase two of the project and are recruiting new students and faculty to join the team. The two primary objectives of this phase are
    • Create a “hierarchy” system within the ROOK software so that all users (regardless of skill level) can rank order sensory-motor behaviors
      to create intelligent robots using a “bottom-up” design.
    • Develop a design strategy for controlling Knight Rover robots from an AI engine in the cloud to create intelligent robots using a
      “top-down” architecture. Join our team to be a part of this exciting adventure.

Project Mentors

Dr. David Anderson (Philosophy)
Eric Thill (ISU, B.S. 2010)
John Kuk (ISU, Master’s Candidate)

Recruitment Status:


Competencies needed by faculty and students involved

  • Students: Students majoring in IT (esp. programming) or technology will bring skills for robotic enhancement. Students in education (esp. technology education) will help design activities to meet educational standards. Business majors will help develop a marketing strategy to promote our educational products. Computer Programming: Students with programming talents in front-end, integration, back-end, and micro-controllers are highly valued. Among programming languages used will be Java 8, JavaScript, HTML5, and a background in Python and C++. Students without experience in programming will begin to learn to program in Python.
  • Faculty: We are still seeking new faculty mentors with expertise in the following areas: computer programming, engineering, machining & fabrication, 3D printing, technology education, and business.

Final Deliverable

  •  Create, test, and refine frontend for behavior-based (“bottom-up”) robotic design.
  • Create online curriculum modules where users discover principles of behavior-based robotic intelligence while tackling hands-on robot challenges.
  • Evaluate prospects for serving the ProtoThinker software from the cloud to give Knight Rover robots “top-down” intelligence.
  • Evaluate other available AI software (both local & web-based) to enhance intelligence of Knight Rover robots.