As part of a research study by Future University Hakodate, students in Japan and the UK are collaborating in real-time to program a robot to follow specific circuits. The students have similar LEGO robots programmed using NXT MINDSTORMS 2.0 software.
All communication between the students takes place inside a customized virtual space called “futureuni” using OpenSim. Students control avatars that use a number of uniquely developed tools to facilitate communication between countries. For example, there is a virtual whiteboard where students can upload JPEG images such as screen captures and digital photos, as well as a virtual media player where a live video stream from the physical lab in Japan is broadcasted into the virtual space.
By capturing all the communication in the virtual space and in the physical world, head researcher Michael Vallance can monitor the development of students’ cognition and knowledge. In the next phase of research, he plans to design and build a simulated virtual nuclear power plant using ReactionGrid’s Jibe 3D toolkit.