Graphing Roomba Paths

Published by patrick honner on

This is a great set of photos depicting art made from the paths of Roomba robotic vacuum cleaners:

roomba light paintings

The paths traced out by these self-starting sweepers could provide a novel approach to random walking.  And I wonder how much of the movement algorithm can be reverse-engineered simply by looking at a collection of paths?

It might be fun to perform experiments with roombas.  For example, we could try to determine how long it takes one to completely traverse a floor, or how many times on average they pass through a given point.  Or if working in tandem, what is the probability that two roombas collide?

Of course, we’d have to address the ethical issues of experimenting on roombas without their consent.

patrick honner

Math teacher in Brooklyn, New York


Susan Socha · September 21, 2011 at 9:29 am

I think it would be cool to video the Roomba and do a Graphing Story a la Dan Meyer!

MrHonner · September 21, 2011 at 7:37 pm

That’s an interesting idea: maybe super-impose the roomba’s path on the coordinate plane, and then ask some compelling questions about it.

Mathematician · September 21, 2011 at 9:46 pm

Now if only I had a giant sheet of graph paper…

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