Flying and Rolling Robots Work Together
Flying and rolling robots work together to surmount a hill that's too steep for one rolling robot to get over.
CREDIT: From "Swarm Robots Cooperate with AR Drone" by BotJunkie on YouTube
Cooperative robots are getting some diversity in the workplace. In a system researchers recently developed, flying bots assess the scene from above before telling rolling robots on the ground how to get over obstacles such as hills, IEEE Spectrum reported.
If one robot can do so much, a swarm of robots could do so much more. That's the reasoning behind several research groups' attempts to make groups of robots that cooperate like bees, ants and other hive-minded creatures. Now the idea of robot swarms has taken another step, by incorporating different types of robots that are suited to different tasks, Spectrum reported.
In the flyer-roller group, the rollers are able to drive around and link together like Lego blocks. They can form different shapes together: lines, Vs, squares, triangles and more, depending on what they need to do. Their ground-level view makes it difficult for them to calculate how to navigate tall obstacles, however.
That's when their flying coworkers come in. The rollers work with quadrotor robots, which analyze the scene, decide which nearby rollers to use, and calculate what configuration of linked rollers would work best to climb a hill of a certain steepness, for example.
Getting one of the flying robots to communicate with exactly the rolling robots it wants was the main challenge for researchers, Spectrum reported. In a video, the robots' creators, a team of researchers from Belgium and Portugal, explain how they used LED lights and matching algorithms to solve the problem:
The researchers presented their work at a robotics conference hosted by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers earlier this month.
Source: IEEE Spectrum