RoboChamps Competition

Microsoft have recently launched the RoboChamps simulation robotics competition and portal.

The portal supports the league competitions with training, access to software, and community features. Robochamps is based on simulation, therefore you don’t need any real robotics hardware in order to compete. The idea is that you can start programming robots simply using the Microsoft Developer Studio 2008 and Visual Studio.

As the competition is based on MRDS 2008 and its simulation capabilities you can use any .NET language to program your simulated robot. The good thing is that you could use exactly the same code to control a real physical robot. Anyhow, the great advantage of this software simulated competition is that you are provided with rich simulation environments. Usually, it is really hard to build an scenario like that in the real world, so using these simulation environment allow us to test and train our robot controllers in nearly real world situations. Imagine controlling your rescue robot in a city that has just suffer a natural dissaster or a terrorist attack, or let your autonomous car drive under intense traffic conditions… or the much more relaxing exploration of the surface of Mars. These are some of the challenges proposed in RoboChamps.

Each challenge consist of a 3D simulation environment, a robots, a chanllenge scenario, and a set of rules for completing the scenario. Also, a referee service will monitor your control service, ensuring that the rules are followed, and determining your score and submitting it to

The available RoboChamp challenges are:

  • AMAZED CHALLENGE:  Use your sensors to avoid traps and other surprises as you navigate the twists and turns of Amazed.

  • MARS ROVER: CHALLENGE: Next Stop, Mars! Navigate the terrain of the red planet and collect data for analysis back on Earth. {mosimage}

  • URBAN CHALLENGE: Do you hate driving downtown? What if you could program a car to do the driving itself? Now you can.

  • SEARCH & RESCUE CHALLENGE: Ready to be a hero? Scour thought the post-disaster rubble to find and rescue survivors in this challenge.

  • SUMO CHALLENGE: Two robots. One ring. It’s sumo time! Outmaneuver your opponent and push it out of the ring to reign victorious.

  • TOURNAMENT: Are you the best of the best? Take to the field with your robot and your best code to compete head to head against fellow leaguers.

I have register the competitor in the Academic zone. Robocard:

Higher Order Theories of Consciousness

Higher Order Theories of Consciousness take a common account for consciousness based on higher-order representations of conscious states. For the sake of clarity and as a preliminary explanation we could just say that Higher Order Theories (HOT) try to model consciousness as a higher-order thought about a thought.

As always, the most controversial dimension of consciousness to be explained is the phenomenal or subjective experience (Qualia). i.e., the famous what-is-it-like-ness as described by Nagel (1974) in terms of what would it be like to be a bat. Higher Order Theories try to explain phenomenal consciousness in terms of higher order representations. Then, we have the access dimension, which is a much more comfortable concept in terms of computability. From the point of view of accessibility, we can say that there are some mental states that happen to be accessible to consciousness, which means that we are actually aware of these states.

Higher Order Theories of consciousness can be framed within cognitive science as the focus on the cognitive level of description in order to explain phenomenal consciousness. In other words, HOT theories reject the idea of (phenomenal) consciousness being a fundamental property of the mind’s substrate. Instead, they consider certain representation processes as the source of consciousness production. Concretely, those representations which are higher order thoughts or beliefs of a mental state.

The usual way to differentiate between conscious and unconscious mental states is to consider that the first are those of which we are aware. According to Higher Order Theories, this is to say that conscious states are those that are the object of some sort of higher representation.