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Battling Reality

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In the four years that the MIT Mobile Robot Project has benn in existence, we have built ten robots that focus research in various areas concerned with building intelligent systems. Towards this end, we have embarked on trying to build useful autonomous creatures that live and work in the real world. Many of the preconceived notions entertained before we started building our robots turned out to be misguided. Some issues we thought would be hard have worked successfully from day one and subsystems we imagined to be trivial have become tremendous time sinks. Oddly enough, one of our biggest failures has led to some of our favorite successes. This paper describes the changing paths our research has taken due to the lessons learned from the practical realities of building robots.

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