Drug Delivery - Task 1

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This is the first of a series of four modules for the nanorobot drug delivery challenge. The goal of this first module is for your entire team to familiarize itself with the LEGO NXT robotics platform. This encompasses both the physical aspects of the system and the programming environment. The hardware includes the component pieces (beams, pins, etc), motors, and sensors. The programming environment includes functions for dealing with all inputs and outputs as well as the basic control structures you would expect from any programming language (if/then statements, for loops, etc).

There are a wide variety of resources to aid in this process. First, there is a very detailed online help section built into the NXT software. Within the software, select any block by clicking on it. In the lower right hand corner a small prompt will appear with a brief description of the block and a link to a much larger detailed help section. It is worth your while to read through at least one of these early on especially if you are unfamiliar with programming in general. Second, we have assembled a quick reference sheet that gives a listing of the basic blocks and their functions. Third, there is a programming primer on the Background page, which describes some of the more complex problems you may encounter that are not detailed within LEGO's help section. In addition the course TAs will be available to aid in whatever ways they can.



  1. Read thru The Lego NXT Users Guide
  2. Build a tribot using the instruction booklet available here.
  3. Evert student on each team writes his or her own code for performing the tasks below. All team members should upload their programs individually and compare results. Your lab report must include all preliminary codes in an appendix. The report must also compare and contrast the strategies used by each of the programmers. Which code is the most compact? Which code is the most robust?
  4. Make a hand-written record of your code in your laboratory notebook. This will allow you to recover your work quickly should you lose your code. Note: the robots will allow you to save a limited number of codes. They will not be available to you on the robot next week. It is thus very important to document your work both in hardcopy format and electronically on either the lab computer or your laptop computer.
  5. Program the Tribot to move back and forth
  6. Program the Tribot to perform both point turns (turning in place) and arc turns (turning while moving)
  7. Program the Tribot to respond to simple sensor feedback. Example: reverse direction after crashing into a wall.

Note: Leave 10 minutes at the end of the period to tidy up your workspace and return the tribot & kit for the next class. Also, the NXT kits are not as easily obtainable as the K'NEX parts so please do not lose them!

As the module progresses your tribot should be able to identify between healthy and cancerous cells. Follow this link to find a description of healthy and cancerous cells under the Challenge section :The Challenge

Programming Tips

Some programming tips can be found here, on the Quick Reference sheet. Quick Reference

Deliverables (i.e. getting graded):

The grade for your group will be based on the following criteria:

  1. Demonstration of the Tribot moving forward. (checked off by instructor/fellow)
  2. Demonstration of the Tribot moving backward. (checked off by instructor/fellow)
  3. Demonstration of the Tribot performing a point turn (turning in place). (checked off by instructor/fellow)
  4. Demonstration of the Tribot performing an arc turn(turning while moving). (checked off by instructor/fellow)
  5. Demonstration of the Tribot to respond to simple sensor feedback. Example: reverse direction after crashing into a wall. (checked off by instructor/fellow)
  6. In your lab notebook, draw a maze that looks like a capital letter T. Imagine this maze as a portion of a capillary bed. Your robot is at the bottom of the T and crawling along the inner surface towards the top of the T. It must investigate two endothelial cells, one on the left branch and one on the right. What is the minimum number of instructions to investigate both cells to determine if they are cancerous? Report your individual answer in your lab notebook then compare your answers with your lab partners.
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