Python is a programming language which is great for testing and researching.
It is interpreted, and not compiled like C. This means it takes a speed hit. However it is written with such a simple and high level command set that it more than compensates. It allows 400 line C programs to be written in 3 lines - which may boil down to faster more efficient C code than the 400 line program anyway.
Because of the way it deals with memory and allocation, it frees you from having to deal with too much of this yourself, or who a string or object belongs to. It does a certain amount of internal reference counting and therefore is fairly memory efficient.
There are a large number of API's written for Python on the net, making it fairly simple to do most tasks with it - including full blown GUIs with wxpython, OpenGL renderers, databases and games.
It is a very good choice for AI code because it encourages good readable code practices, and allows you to concentrate more on program behaviour than minute details.
Simple Parallel Port LED Board - A project using Python to control an external device
Time to build your own robot! Using a Raspberry Pi with parts and some time, you can use my book to learn how to make and program a robot with automatic behaviours.