Pyro Workshop 2004

This is a planning page for the Pyro Workshop 2004. See Pyro for more details.


  1. Bob Avanzato, Penn State Abington, rla5 at [registered]

  2. Esmail Bonakdarian, Oberlin College, ebonak at [registered]

  3. Rebecca Bruce, University of North Carolina at Asheville, bruce at [registered]

  4. Sung-Hyuk Cha, Pace University, SCha at [registered]

  5. Zachary Dodds, Harvey Mudd College, dodds at [registered]

  6. Stephanie Elzer, Millersville University, elzers at [registered]

  7. Jeffrey Forbes, Duke University, forbes at [registered]

  8. Jennifer Kay, Rowan University, kay at [registered]

  9. Myungsook Klassen, California Lutheran University, mklassen at [registered]

  10. [WWW]Kyler Laird, UC Merced and Purdue, [registered]

  11. Amruth Kumar, Ramapo College of New Jersey, amruth at [registered]

  12. Peter Lykos, Illinois Institute of Technology, lykos at [registered]

  13. Bill Manaris, College of Charleston, manaris at [registered]

  14. Jim Marshall, Pomona College, marshall at [registered]

  15. Barbara Nostrand, SUNY College at Potsdam, nostrand at [registered]

  16. Stefan Robila, Montclair State University, robilas at [registered]

  17. Bob Roos, Allegheny College, [registered]

  18. Christine A. Shannon, Centre College, shannon at [registered]

  19. Rahul Simha, George Washington University, simha at gwu dot edu [registered]

  20. Goran Trajkovski, Towson University, gtrajkovski at [registered]

  21. Jerry Weinberg, Southern Illinois University, jweinbe at [registered]

  22. Kim Wheeler, Road Narrows, kim.wheeler at [registered]

  23. Charles Winton, University of North Florida, cwinton at [registered]

  24. Karl R. Wurst, Worcester State College, kwurst at [registered]


  1. Doug Blank, Bryn Mawr College, dblank at

  2. Deepak Kumar, Bryn Mawr College, dkumar at

  3. Lisa Meeden, Swarthmore College, meeden at

  4. Holly Yanco, University of Massachusetts Lowell, holly at


The workshop will take place Aug 3 - 5, 2004.

Monday, August 2

Pyro Happy Hour

At Gullifty's starting at 7:30pm.

Gullifty's is a short walk from the campus. It will be a pay as you go social for those who arrive early and want to meet up with other folks. Some of the workshop convenors will be the bar.

Tuesday, August 3

Evening on your own exploring Philadelphia and the Main Line. Ask your organizers for ideas and suggestions.

Wednesday, August 4

Picnic/BBQ in the Haffner Quad starting at 6:30.

Thursday, August 5


  1. Pyro Manual

  2. [WWW]Campus Map Haffner Hall (where you will be staying) is Number 24 on the Map, Park Science Building (where the workshop will be held) is Number 12 on this map.

  3. [WWW]Directions to the Campus For directions to the college from multiple travel modalities. The Visitor Parking Lot it brings you to is right behind Haffner Hall (see below for a description of the building, it is hard to miss).

Directions from Bryn Mawr SEPTA Train Station to Haffner Hall

If coming from Philadelphia (or points east) on the R5 train, get off at the Bryn Mawr Train Station. Keep walking in the same direction as you get off the train along Morris Ave., past the traffic light on Montgomery Ave, 25 yds. After another 25 yards you will see the Southwest Corner of the campus with a big sign announcing BRYN MAWR COLLEGE. Turn left (on Yarrow Street) and as you look up towards your right, you will see the two-storey red brick building with funky towers with round holes in them. This is Haffner Hall. Walk down the street and turn right on Merion Ave. to get to the entrance.

Airport Limo Service Information

Call and pre-arrange your reservation with Main Line Airport Service. This costs around $20 for a one-way trip, a little less than double that for a round trip. They know about dropping and pick-ups at Wyndham Hall which is the building adjacent to Haffner Hall.

On arrival at the airport, follow the signs to Baggage Claim. Go down the escalator to the Ground Transportation desk; dial 32, Main Line Airport Service, for the time of the next departure and follow the directions to Zone 7. Advance reservations are suggested; call 610-525-0513.

Some more info (added 7/23): The cost is $23 each way. The shuttle leaves the airport at the top of the hour, every hour. Pick up times for the return trip to the airport can be arranged when making a reservation. Please do make an advance reservation by calling the number above. The shuttle takes anywhere from 30 min to 60 min for a trip depending on the number of pick-ups/drop-offs along the way.

Train from airport to 30th street station run every 20 mins and it takes about 15-20 min to get there. R5 from 30th Street to Bryn Mawr runs every 30 min (see schedules posted at SEPTA's web page) and it takes about 25 min for the train ride. There are more frequent trains during rush hours on R5 line.

Ride Offers

(The welcome message said to feel free to post ride offers here, so here goes. Please delete this section if it's not appropriate. --kyler)

Kyler Laird -- I am planning to stay in Phoenixville, PA during the workshop. I'll have a rental car and will be happy to share the ride.

Christine Shannon -- I will be arriving about 7 pm on Northwest from Lexington, KY by way of Detroit. I would be pleased to meet up with others to take the train.

Dining Options within walking distance (less than 15 min) from campus

Most places listed below are on Lancaster Ave. which is half a block on the south side of the SEPTA train station.

At the train station itself:

  1. Tango: A nice restaurant serving well prepared american cuisine. The restaurant is literally sitting on the train tracks (on the south side) and you can indeed watch the trains pass as you dine. Also has a bar and patio.

  2. Lourdas: A very nice BYOB Greek restaurant across the street from Tango (above). This is a cash only place.

  3. Bravo Pizza: A down home pizza place (where you can order pizza by the slice) that also has salads etc. Go past Lourdas (above) and turn the corner.

On Lancaseter Ave:

  1. Beijing Inn: A Chinese place on Lancaster Ave. Go past Bravo Pizza (above) and take a right at the light. Beijing Inn is across the street in that block.

  2. Citron: A formal Mediterranean Place a few doors past Beijing Inn (if you're walking as above).

  3. Zen: A Japanese place in the next block from Citron (above) and across the street.

  4. The Grogg: A good local pub that has burgers etc. and other dishes just a few doors down from Zen.

  5. The Point: A neat place to watch live acoustic music diagonally across from The Grogg at Merion Ave.

If you follow Merion Ave, past the light on Montgomery Ave and veer right as it does, you will end up at Haffner Hall. If you're going to any of these places, you can also walk this way to Lancaster Ave. On the way you will also see:

  1. Fuji Mountain: A Japanese place next to the Firehouse on Merion Ave.

On Lancaster Ave. past (west of) The Point:

  1. Cafe Freska: A Mediterranean BYOB, two blocks from the Firehouse.

  2. Pizzi's: Another downhome Pizza place same block as Freska.

  3. Main Line Grill: A very casual Greek place that also serves cheese steaks etc.

  4. Peace-A-Pizza: A quirky Pizza Place in the next block from Main Line Grill

  5. Hope's Ice Cream: Attached to Peace...above. VERY good ice cream.

  6. Gullifty's: A casual american restaurant in the block next to Hope's (next to Borders Bookstore)

On Lancaster Ave., if you go east after crossing the train station:

  1. Starbucks Cafe (at the traffic light on Lancaster Ave.)

  2. Bocce's Pizza, if you go left on Lancaster (from above), past the gas station.

  3. X AND O/COSI Cafe: A cafe and sandwich place down the shopping plaza from Bocce's.

  4. Dunkin' Donuts: Next block from Bocce's (across the street is Barnes & Noble Bookstore, the other bookend)

  5. Silk Cuisine: A Thai place in the next block and across the street from Dunkin' (BYOB).

  6. Food Source: A gourmet grocery shop that also has a cafe and lots of prepared foods across the street from Silk (above)

There's several other places around here...but I think this ought to serve us all well. All of the above are within 5-15 min walk from Haffner Hall.

inexpensive hardware

(Or...I opened my big mouth and someone told me to add my information to the Wiki page...)

(Kyler) I have a BT848 video capture card and lots of NTSC cameras but they sit unused. It's just far too easy to use a USB camera. A USB camera costs much less than an analog camera and capture card, can be installed and moved trivially - even on laptops, and can provide higher resolution.

I have personal experience with the Philips PCVC740K ToUCam Pro and the Kensington SVGA (800x600) cameras. Unfortunately, these outstanding cameras have been discontinued. Video4Linux supports many other cameras though.

  1. [WWW]Linux support for Philips USB webcams

  2. [WWW]Linux Omnivision USB camera drivers

(Kyler) I'm itching to try these [WWW]Sharp IR Rangers to detect obstacles.

(Kyler) I use a [WWW]Roboteq AX2550 motor controller for my wheelchair robot. I had a local electrical shop crimp high-power connectors to it and the wheelchair motors, connected it, and immediately start using it. If you want to [WWW]turn your old car into a robot, this is a good place to start.

(Kyler) I have a bunch of [WWW]VIA Mini-ITX systems that I use for mobile/embedded chores. At ~$300 for a complete system, they make powerful, easily-extended, battery-powered controllers. ([WWW]Others are doing this too.)

(Kyler) There are lots of inexpensive small robot bases that can haul laptops. [WWW]Zagros Robotics offers several.


(Esmail) I would be interested in what books people use in their classes. Specifically I am interested in books for undergraduate Intro to AI and Intro to Robotics courses. If you could add a few comments to your recommendation it would be particularly helpful. And, if you have used some books that were truely horrible, mention those too, but be sure to flag them as such :-)

AI Books

  1. Artificial Intelligence: A Guide to Intelligent Systems, Michael Negnevitsky. [WWW]Contents

Robotics Books

  1. Vehicles: Experiments in Synthetic Psychology, Valentino Braitenberg. 1984, MIT.

Ideas and Suggestions

Please add your suggestions, comments, bugs, wishes, issues, or compliments about any of the Pyro programs or materials:


  1. Wish: Add a "Reset World" option in the Stage menu that would reset the items to their starting positions.

  2. Wish: Add ability to color fill squares objects in Stage

  3. Wish: Make a PLAYERPATH load directory in Stage

  4. Wish: Have Stage display robot's by socket ID/names in window. [fixed - in next version of Stage]


  1. Bug: Remove puck.word and from Stage worlds [fixed]

  2. Wish: Add a "push/pop" to the FSM [fixed]

  3. Wish: Add a front end so that web users could control a robot

  4. Naming issue: update vs step; onActivate vs onEnter

  5. Bug? Collect Data NN Example did not want to write in home directory

  6. Bug: bad error message: instead of saying "group not found" it said something about "tuple must be integers".

  7. Bug: Motion detection can only be applied once, to original image [fixed]

  8. Wish: Make Debian/Redhat packages for everything.

Pyro Curriculum Possibilities Developed at the Workshop

  1. The PyroIntro group thought about the use of Pyro in an introductory computer science course for majors or non-majors