THE ROBOPACMAN PROJECT – Implementation of a modern remake of the famous Pacman game
The rapid evolution in Robotics, Internet-of-Things, Cloud and Software Engineering sciences, has lowered the complexity of developing and delivering interconnected Cyber-Physical systems. It is a fact that traditional robotic applications were monolithic, meaning that they were executed in confined systems (either a single robot or a group of robots in a local area network). This view of robotic systems has changed with the introduction of the IoT paradigm. IoT builds upon the network of physical objects, vehicles, buildings and other items that are enabled with electronics, software, sensors and network connectivity, this way being able to collect and exchange data. One could argue that nowadays robots can be seen as “Things” in the IoT concept, since they essentially are complex devices collecting sensory data from their environment and offering services. The coupling of robotics and IoT could offer additional capabilities, such as interconnectivity between robots, smart devices and sensor modules, or the ability to utilize external web services, such as robotics algorithms executing in high-performance cloud infrastructures. This way, more sophisticated cyber-physical applications may be designed, built and deployed.
In order for a RoboPacman battle between two teams to be performed, two strategies for each team are required, one for Pacman and one for Ghost. Therefore, each game consists of two rounds, during which the roles are swapped. Each battle is performed on a tableau that has the form of a grid, either using real robots or in simulation, which includes a set of randomly interconnected nodes (see figure below). Regarding the motion of the robots, a) they can move from one node to a neighboring one if the robot’s orientation is towards the target node or b) make a stationary rotation of 90, -90 or 180 degrees.
In order to minimize the required expertise to create new strategies for Ms Pacman and the Robotic Ghost, as well as drastically decrease the overall effort and errors, our framework includes a Graphical User Interface (GUI), which is designed and built according to Model Driven Engineering (MDE) techniques. The following figure illustrates a Ms Pacman Strategy depicted as a model in MDE terms. As evident, several game concepts that comprise the graphical notation to formulate strategies for the game exist. Some of these concepts model robot states (e.g. “Go for bonus”, “Multiply Points” etc.), whilst others model transitions from one state to another and are illustrated as arrows that connect the states.
RoboPacman was implemented as a competition platform for ESESCON 11, where 250 students / 62 teams participated, deploying over 250 matches. For more technical information please visit https://r4a.issel.ee.auth.gr/ms-pacman-and-the-robotic-ghost/.