LEGO Mindstorms robots are a popular platform for teaching artificial intelligence (AI) due to their low cost and the availability of free, quality programming libraries. One of the challenges in integrating Mindstorms into pre-existing AI classes is in constructing new curricula and new assignments to encompass the use of robots. Additionally, students must take time to learn to program them. This programming is generally of a systems nature, and though certainly a worthwhile experience, takes class time away from other AI material.
VacuumBot is a robot design and a software library developed with the leJOS language for LEGO Mindstorms. VacuumBot contains a high level library that allows students to implement Russell and Norvig's "Vacuum World" with physical robots by programming in Java, but with a minimum amount of low-level programming to learn. Thus, an AI class that does not emphasize robotics can focus on other areas, while students can still experience the excitement of working with Mindstorms robots.