is a data visualization researcher
based in Montreal, Canada.
I learned to program in the late nineties through a game called RoboWar. RoboWar provides a simulated arena in which two virtual robots try to destroy each other by running a program written by their respective players. The goal was to create a robot which could win a tournament, which were held about twice a year; entrants would email their creation to someone with a fast computer who would simulate hundreds of battles and then let everyone know who had won and make the entries public.
After building my little autonomous wanderer robot, I saw this iPad-controlled blimp and went ahead and added iPad control to my robot too. I had a Python script on my iMac which took commands from the iPad over Wifi and relayed them to the Arduino using XBee. I demo'ed this at BitNorth 2010, but I'm not sure if the video is up yet. That said, the fact that all the commands were relayed through a 'base station' bothered me, and I saw a cheap wireless Wii Nunchuk which I immediately bought, thinking I could make it into a really ergonomic remote control for my little robot. I probably could have gotten a Wifi shield instead, but I was up for a different kind of challenge.
Back in April I got an Arduino Duemilanove and a variety of sensors and actuators, which promptly caused me to go order a rover base from RobotShop.ca,and a few days later, I had put this little guy together! Truly,Arduino is an easy-to-use platform for this sort of thing. I went on toput together an iPad-controlled version as well as a wirelessWii-Chuck-controlled version but I'll post about those later.