A Simulator for Teaching Robotics Programming Using the iRobot Create

Why use a simulator?

Robotics programming is growing in popularity at the undergraduate level. Many students find it enticing to have their abstract code affect a physical robot. And many will need to work with robotics as the field grows. However, programming can be hard to learn for beginners, and robot hardware adds further complexity. A simulator can help students debug their program logic wherever they like (in their dorm), whenever they like (at 2:00 am).


Click here for download instructions and usage.


We have used the simulator successfully in our Introduction to Software Development with Robotics course. At the bottom of that page, you'll find a list of robotics assignments and projects.


This project was created by a team of Rose-Hulman students from the Computer Science and Software Engineering Department as their senior project. They are Andrew Hettlinger, Brenon Smith, Andrew Carlson, and Matt Moseng. Their advisor was Shawn Bohner. Their client was Matt Boutell. Boutell is part of the Institute's Multidisciplinary Educational Robotics Initiative.


A Simulator for Teaching Robotics Programming Using the iRobot Create

Andrew Hettlinger and Matthew Boutell. Poster presented at the AAAI 2010 Symposium on Educational Advances in Artificial Intelligence, Atlanta, GA, June 2010.

Poster: hettlingerBoutelleaai10Poster.pdf

Full text: hettlingerBoutelleaai10.pdf


Past educational robotics research has indicated that the use of simulators can increase students’ performance in introductory robotics programming courses. In this paper, we introduce a simulator for the iRobot Create that works on Windows PCs. It was developed to work with a Python robotics library and includes an Eclipse plugin, but can simulate any library that uses the serial Open Interface on the Create. The platform, library, and simulator are all easy to use and have been well-received initially by students.