In a striking display of military-like precision, the robotic team, dubbed the "Swarmanoid",
attacks the problem with flying "eye-bots" and rolling "foot-bots". A
"hand-bot" then fires a grappling hook-like device up to the ceiling and
scales the bookshelf. Footage of the experiment, conducted by Marco Dorigo at Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium, and colleagues, won the video competition at the Conference on Artificial Intelligence in San Francisco earlier this week
Swarm robotics is inspired by the social insect metaphor,
and emphasises aspects such as decentralisation of control, limited
communication abilities among robots, use of local information,
emergence of global behaviour, and robustness. Most current studies in
swarm robotic systems have focused on robotic swarms in which
individuals are physically and behaviourally undifferentiated.
The Swarmanoid project proposes a highly innovative way to build robots
that can successfully and adaptively act in human made environments.
The Swarmanoid project will be the first to study how to design, realise
and control a heterogeneous swarm robotic system capable of operating
in a fully 3-dimensional environment.
The main scientific objective of the proposed research is the design, implementation and control of a novel distributed robotic system comprising heterogeneous, dynamically connected small autonomous robots so as to form what we call a swarmanoid. The swarmanoid that we intend to build will be comprised of numerous (about 60) autonomous robots of three types: eye-bots, hand-bots, and foot-bots.
eye-bot has 8 rotors, arranged in a coaxial quadrotor configuration,
that provide the main lifting force and control. The co-axial
arrangement allows for a smaller size and increased payload
hand-bot is a fully new concept of robot specilized in both climbing
vertical surfaces and manipulating objects. The hand-bot is not able
to move on the ground (rely for this on the foot-bots and on
self-assembling features) and has a very weak perception of distant
environment (rely for this on the eye-bots)
foot-bot is a particular configuration of modules based on the
marXbot robotic platform. The foot-bot configuration includes a top
CPU and vision module, a distance scnaner, a range and bearing module,
a self-assembling module and a basic (mobility & battery)