ReadyAI – Middle School

Lesson 4: Landmark-based Navigation

Essential Question

How does AI navigate?

Summary of Lesson

Applying the principles of object identification, students will assist their AI units to identify the objects around it and create a world view through Calypso. Students will also be assisted in navigating their AI units through said world.



Can students …

  • program Cozmo to navigate to any cube?
  • program Cozmo to navigate to a specific cube?
  • evaluate uses for the AI principle of landmark-based navigation?


Students will be able to

  • explain how landmark-based navigation works and where it is applied in our lives.
  • read and write multiple lines of rules that involve landmark-based navigation.
  • create a prototype set based on their presentation idea.

Tools and Materials

Connecting to Prior Knowledge

Who and what can AI recognize?

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Teaching Guide

Ice Breakers (15 minutes)

Unplugged Activity

Teacher begins by creating a small obstacle course with desks, chairs, or other items from the classroom.

Teacher plays a game of blind obstacle course. Teacher asks for a volunteer. Teacher blindfolds student.

Other students have to give the student directions to get around obstacle course such as desks, chairs, etc.

Suggestion: Ask for one pair of volunteers, one to navigate and one to follow the directions. Groups may want to use Cozmo’s Handler as the person being navigated and the Computer Operator as the one doing the navigation.

Teachers may continue this game to see which group can navigate its member through the course the fastest.Then, the teacher can highlight the difference by asking a student to play the role of a smart, AI-driven robot with rule-based commands. (See Teacher Resource 4.1 for an explanation as to the differences.) Such commands might be “When Bump Desk, Turn Left and Move Forward.” (See Teacher Resource 4.2 for such codes.) A handful of such rules can serve to navigate the student representing AI-powered robots through the obstacle course without students providing the directions.

Groups may compete to see who can provide the necessary rules to their member to navigate him or her through the obstacle course.

Teacher resources:

Teacher Resource 4.1 explains the difference between sequential and rule based programming.

Teacher Resource 4.2 explains how students can be “programmed” based on rule and sequential based programming.

PowerPoint 4

Check for understanding:

Why is navigating important?


How is navigating an AI unit possible?

Teacher Presentation (10 minutes)

Teacher introduces abilities AI unit has in terms of navigation using the following video:

Teacher presents the method of programming AI unit to navigate to cubes. Teacher also presents the method of programming AI to navigate around cubes.

Teacher shows Calypso’s map feature and how Cozmo scans his surroundings.

Teacher explains sequential versus rule-based programming. Teacher notes that non-AI robots work sequentially, requiring a series of steps, whereas Cozmo and other AI units run on rule-based programming, allowing them to operate more freely. (See Teacher Resource 4.1 for more information.)

Teacher resources:

Check for understanding:

What are the steps necessary to program the AI Unit?


Do you want to program Cozmo?

Guided Practice (15 minutes)

Teacher distributes AI-IN-A-BOXTM. Using previous or newly defined roles (See Handout 2.1 if necessary), students set up the AI-IN-A-BOXTM.

Teacher introduces the scenario students have to overcome. Students put one cube in front of Cozmo. Students have to program Cozmo to maneuver around this cube.

Students then program a second function after Cozmo has navigated around one cube. He then has to bump into the second cube. (Refer students to Handout 4.1 for a visual of what they should do.)

Groups may begin obstacle course using Cozmo’s cubes.

Teacher circulates as students practice with cubes. Students should practice:

  • navigating to a specific cube.
  • navigating to a selected cube.
  • navigating around cubes.

Teacher resources:

Check for understanding:

What are Cozmo’s current limitations?


What applications can you think of?

Student Production (20 minutes)

Teacher announces there will be a race. Students will bring their Cozmos and a given block. Students will program Cozmo to avoid side block in order to pick up a given block decided and only held by the teacher. (Refer to Handout 4.2 for a visual description.)

Teacher will create an obstacle course with each Cozmo avoiding the block brought by the group member in order to pick up the block selected by the teacher.

Teacher may layer on complexity by putting alternate items in the way, including more cubes. 

The group whose Cozmo successfully navigates the group’s cube to bump the teacher’s cube first wins.

Teacher resources:

Check for understanding:

What are some useful applications of AI navigation in {teacher names some domains}?


Your task at the end of this series of lessons will be to create a model use for AI. What ideas do you and your group have so far?

Closure (5 minutes)

Teacher will ask students to present what ideas for their projects they have thus far. Teacher should also refer to the rubric provided last session (Handout 3.4) and briefly point out the requirements for doing well in their presentation.

Students assist in putting away their group’s AI-IN-A-BOX™ .

Check for understanding:

Have students share their thoughts.