Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Controlling swarms of robots with light and a single finger

12.05.2015

Using a smart tablet and a red beam of light, Georgia Institute of Technology researchers have created a system that allows people to control a fleet of robots with the swipe of a finger.

A person taps the tablet to control where the beam of light appears on a floor. The swarm robots then roll toward the illumination, constantly communicating with each other and deciding how to evenly cover the lit area. When the person swipes the tablet to drag the light across the floor, the robots follow. If the operator puts two fingers in different locations on the tablet, the machines will split into teams and repeat the process.


Using a smart tablet and a red beam of light, Georgia Institute of Technology researchers have created a system that allows people to control a fleet of robots with the swipe of a finger. A person taps the tablet to control where the beam of light appears on a floor. The swarm robots then roll toward the illumination, constantly communicating with each other and deciding how to evenly cover the lit area. When the person swipes the tablet to drag the light across the floor, the robots follow. If the operator puts two fingers in different locations on the tablet, the machines will split into teams and repeat the process.

Credit: Georgia Tech

The new Georgia Tech algorithm that fuels this system demonstrates the potential of easily controlling large teams of robots, which is relevant in manufacturing, agriculture and disaster areas.

"It's not possible for a person to control a thousand or a million robots by individually programming each one where to go," said Magnus Egerstedt, Schlumberger Professor in Georgia Tech's School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. "Instead, the operator controls an area that needs to be explored. Then the robots work together to determine the best ways to accomplish the job."

Egerstedt envisions a scenario in which an operator sends a large fleet of machines into a specific area of a tsunami-ravaged region. The robots could search for survivors, dividing themselves into equal sections. If some machines were suddenly needed in a new area, a single person could quickly redeploy them.

The Georgia Tech model is different from many other robotic coverage algorithms because it's not static. It's flexible enough to allow robots to "change their minds" effectively, rather than just performing the single job they're programmed to do.

"The field of swarm robotics gets difficult when you expect teams of robots to be as dynamic and adaptive as humans," Egerstedt explained. "People can quickly adapt to changing circumstances, make new decisions and act. Robots typically can't. It's hard for them to talk and form plans when everything is changing around them."

In the Georgia Tech demonstration, each robot is constantly measuring how much light is in its local "neighborhood." It's also chatting with its neighbor. When there's too much light in its area, the robot moves away so that another can steal some of its light.

"The robots are working together to make sure that each one has the same amount of light in its own area," said Egerstedt.

The tablet-based control system has one final benefit: it was designed with everyone in mind. Anyone can control the robots, even if they don't have a background in robotics.

"In the future, farmers could send machines into their fields to inspect the crops," said Georgia Tech Ph.D. candidate Yancy Diaz-Mercado. "Workers on manufacturing floors could direct robots to one side of the warehouse to collect items, then quickly direct them to another area if the need changes."

A paper about the control system, "Multi-Robot Control Using Time-Varying Density Functions," was recently published in the IEEE Transactions on Robotics (T-RO).

###

This material is based upon work supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research under Award No. FA9550-13-1-0029. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the AFOSR.

Media Contact

Jason Maderer
maderer@gatech.edu
404-385-2966

 @GeorgiaTech

http://www.gatech.edu 

Jason Maderer | EurekAlert!

Further reports about: Air Magnus Robots The swarm beam of light control system crops fingers

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Study offers new theoretical approach to describing non-equilibrium phase transitions
27.04.2017 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory

nachricht SwRI-led team discovers lull in Mars' giant impact history
26.04.2017 | Southwest Research Institute

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>