We are on it too http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=oO_Ohp1pHBw
diabolicalrobot writes "The Robotics Institute at CMU has been developing systems to learn from humans. Using a Machine Learning class of techniques called Imitation Learning our group has developed AI software for a small commercially available off-the-shelf ARdrone to autonomously fly through the dense trees for over 3.4 km in experimental runs. We are also developing methods to do longer range planning with such purely vision-guided UAVs. Such technology has a lot of potential impact for surveillance, search and rescue and allowing UAVs to safely share airspace with manned airspace."
Link to Original Source
Link to Original Source
This problem is widespread in almost every discipline which uses any form of computation. I think the best way is for major funding sources like the NIH, NSF etc to build in to the grant terms which coding language, existing libraries be used. Or how/what/ software will be developed should be used an additional metric for deciding which proposals to accept. Proposals which are strong otherwise but do not state in clear terms how software will be built should be asked to modify their proposals to include such information. Pre-existing, well-designed, modular software architectures should be extended rather than building architectures from scratch. This is a waste of funds and time. Funding organizations must also recognize that developing good software takes time and money and set aside budgets in the grant for hiring dedicated programmers. (Scientists are very often not good software engineers and they are interested rather in trying things out quickly to see if it works at all) Such programmers can then take hacky research code from the scientists and turn it around into great reusable code.
Alice is a tool built by CMU researchers for exactly the purpose you want -- to gently introduce your kid to programming and making it seem fun and easy without scaring him. http://www.alice.org/index.php?page=what_is_alice/what_is_alice Alice was the brainchild of famed researcher late Prof.Randy Pausch and is used in thousands of educational institutes and schools. In Alice the programer builds up a story by programming and your child wont even know that he is coding until its too late