Let's Make Robots!

LMRv4 Donor Appreciation Robot

Results: Donor Drawing Winners!

See the LMR Donor Drawing Winners - Seeedstudio Prizes page

Intro:

As most of you know, we are running a fundraiser to help cover costs for developing LMRv4. Visit our Donation Page for more info.

Anyone who makes a donation before May 1st, 2012 will be entered into a drawing to win one of five prizes generously donated by Seeedstudio!

We need a cool robot to pick the winners. So here is your challenge.

The robot must be able to make random selections from a pool of names. There are five prizes, and just in case we want to pull 5 alternate winners. So we need 10 names picked.

The rules for the drawing will be that the first name picked gets their choice of the prizes, the second name picked gets their choice of the remaining, etc. So the robot challenge must be able to support that.

RobotGrrl has offered to have the drawing made live on her weekly Robot Party after the May 1st deadline. The drawing will also be recorded for posterity.

Rules:

  1. The challenger must set up a system that can pick a list of 10 names from a provided list. The list of names will probably be on the order of a few hundred.
  2. The system must provide a way to determine the order in which the names were picked.
  3. The system must be fair. (This may seem easy but it is hard to create a physical random number generator with a uniform distribution.)
  4. The system must use an autonomous robot as part of the process of picking a name. E.g., if a dice is used, a robot must throw the dice, or read the dice, or BE the dice :).
  5. The system must be as transparent as possible. E.g.. A robot printing out a name on a lcd is not very transparent unless you can show how the code works step by step as the choice is made. 


OK. Get those thinkers thinking and make it happen!

To be considered, you will need to post a link to a video as a comment to this challenge page. The video must show that your robot can meet the requirements in the rules above.

The winner will be selected by Nils and myself.

Update: Challenge Ends and Winner is Selected

 

Today is May 1st. Time to pick a winner.

It has been suggested that with two such great entries, why choose? If both contestants are ready and can be available for the Robot Party (this Thursday May 3rd at 8:00 PM Eastern/US), then let's have them both choose!

If there are no objections, I will select the first robot by coin toss. That robot will start the choosing, and will select three winners (1st, 3rd, and 5th) and two alternates (2nd and 4th). The other robot will select two winners (2nd and 4th) and three alternates (1st, 3rd, and 5th).

Update 2012-05-03: The drawing will be very late for RobotFreak (2 AM!), so his robot will not be picking live on the Robot Party, only Nils' machine will. However, RobotFreak will do a random pick of five winners/alternates, and will send me the video. 

BTW, the time will be 2 AM for Nils as well. Let's give him a hand for being so dedicated to stay up and help us celebrate!

Congratulations to both Nils and RobotFreak on really great robots! 


 

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It's tough to build a bot at all! That's why we have this challenge. I do understand where you're coming from-a simple programming solution seems obvious, but it's not the point. Suggesting it to us is kind of like asking Two football clubs why don't they just flip a coin to see who wins a match rather than playing the game. The thing is, Any one of us with the basic ability to program the micro controllers that most of us use for our machines could easily do what you're talking about, but it's not enough for us, I guess. We are united by our pursuit of physical affectation of the world through electromechanical means. Perhaps the kind of solution you're suggesting would be more appropriate for a site called "Let's Program Computers!" ;-). Also, please understand that I wasn't implying that I thought you would cheat if you wrote code that ended up being used, simply that I was making a point about "rigging" that a physical system limits. One further thing-a physical system by definition allows for "true" random number generation, while we know from Comp Sci 101 that a computational system only allows for pseudo-random number generation. While it would probably be unpredictable enough to generate what we would all agree was a "fair" distribution of names, an algorithmically produced sequence wouldn't be as satisfying to me, at least. Finally, the main reason people look at this site is to look at robots others have built. I doubt many people are quite as entertained by http://www.random.org/integers/ as they are by Lumi and Fizikus' R2 units.

Science!

Will the winner of the challenge to build the system be excluded from the drawing?

If I've already donated and I donate again, will I be entered twice? As a "contestant" I'd hope Yes, but as a potential system designer I'd probably disagree with myself on that point (and maybe donate again anyway.) 

Which brings up the second point: do you have any estimate of the scale of the number of entries? "A Few Hundred" is a bit vague for a physical motion system (for example, the difference between an arm that can grab a ping-pong ball from a bin of 100 and a bin of 200 is epic.)

Also, if this is going to be on Robot Party, will the completed system have to be sent to Canada or are you assuming the "Winner" will be able to be on G+?  (I tried to get on RP last night and could only watch, not particpate from my iPad.  That was probably for the better-I had just been for a jog and I was naked.)

Q: Will the winner of the challenge to build the system be excluded from the drawing?

A: No. Although there could be the appearance of a rigged game, preventing our challengers from donating seems like a bad idea. We believe people who build robots are cool. And building a rigged robot for this contest would definitely be 'not cool'. 

Q: If I've already donated and I donate again, will I be entered twice? As a "contestant" I'd hope Yes, but as a potential system designer I'd probably disagree with myself on that point (and maybe donate again anyway.) 

A: Anyone who donates gets an equal chance. Donating more money or donating multiple times will not affect your chances to win. All donors will be entered into the drawing a single time.

Q: Which brings up the second point: do you have any estimate of the scale of the number of entries? "A Few Hundred" is a bit vague for a physical motion system (for example, the difference between an arm that can grab a ping-pong ball from a bin of 100 and a bin of 200 is epic.)

A: Unknown. Nils, can you look into this? We'll update the answer when we know. 

Q: Also, if this is going to be on Robot Party, will the completed system have to be sent to Canada or are you assuming the "Winner" will be able to be on G+?  (I tried to get on RP last night and could only watch, not particpate from my iPad.  That was probably for the better-I had just been for a jog and I was naked.)

A: The winner will participate remotely. No shipping of the robot is required. Also, your jog naked? ; j

we have around 100 donations up until today.

we have around 130 donations up until today.

Also, you jog naked?

Is there any other way?

I just thought of a way to assure fairness. The person running the robot will not have the names of the donors, just a set of numbers to draw from. The robot will draw the numbers. Nils or I will have the list associating the numbers to the donors, and will announce them as they are drawn.