In the summer of 2007 my friend, Michael Abraham, and I wrote a robot
programming game in Matlab. The idea came out of a little demo he
wrote where one circle was chasing another circle. Eventually the
circles could be run by their own functions, then they were shooting
at each other, then dropping mines, and so on. It was dubbed
It turned into a little programming competition among several of us at
work. Someone would invent a new feature, like cooperative bots or
bullet dodging, that would allow it to dominate for awhile. Then
someone else would build on that and come up with some other killer
feature. At one point we even hooked up a joystick so we could control
our own bot live against our creations.
I never shared that here. Someday I will.
Anyway, Mike took a little bit of the Matbots code and design and came
up with a new, similar game called SumoBots. Programmable bots are in
a frictionless circular playing area with the ability to accelerate in
any direction. Collisions between bots are governed by a spring force
dynamics. Bots are out of the game when they leave the circular
area. The goal is to knock out all the other bots. Here's a video,
I like how smooth and natural that looks.
He got a number of people at his lab to code up some bots to
compete. I threw the code up over at
Mercurial host, which you can checkout with,
hg clone http://bitbucket.org/skeeto/sumobots/
(I haven't convinced anyone else over there to use a version control
repository, let alone this one, but here's hoping!)
You can use either Matlab or Octave to program your bot. It works in
both, with Octave being on the slow side. For Octave, you'll need to
cla function as a call to
don't define it for some reason). To start coding a bot, just look at
samplebot bot for information on programming a
bot. Edit the players in
player_list.txt, then launch it
I wrote one bot so far called bully. It charges at the nearest bot,
being careful to cancel out its own velocity. In the video above this
bot is red.
The other bots so far is kyleBot, blue in the video, which passively
runs circles around the outside of the surface hoping to trick
aggressive bots, like mine, into running out. The bot2fun bot, black
in the video, is like bully, but tries to keep safely near the center
of the playing area. The brick bot, green in the video, is a dummy,
practice bot that just gets knocked around.
The tricky part in writing a bot is managing the frictionless
surface. Acceleration can't just be in the direction you want to
travel, but also against the current velocity. You might want to set
up some kind of process
control for this.
Right now I think there is a balance issue. Passive bots have an
advantage, but the game won't progress if everyone takes this
advantage and writes passive bots. It's like camping in a first-person
shooter. As a partial solution to these stalemates, Mike has proposed
that the playing surface should shrink over time.
If you want to join in, grab the code and start coding.