View Chapter

Chapter 53 — Multiple Mobile Robot Systems

Lynne E. Parker, Daniela Rus and Gaurav S. Sukhatme

Within the context of multiple mobile, and networked robot systems, this chapter explores the current state of the art. After a brief introduction, we first examine architectures for multirobot cooperation, exploring the alternative approaches that have been developed. Next, we explore communications issues and their impact on multirobot teams in Sect. 53.3, followed by a discussion of networked mobile robots in Sect. 53.4. Following this we discuss swarm robot systems in Sect. 53.5 and modular robot systems in Sect. 53.6. While swarm and modular systems typically assume large numbers of homogeneous robots, other types of multirobot systems include heterogeneous robots. We therefore next discuss heterogeneity in cooperative robot teams in Sect. 53.7. Once robot teams allow for individual heterogeneity, issues of task allocation become important; Sect. 53.8 therefore discusses common approaches to task allocation. Section 53.9 discusses the challenges of multirobot learning, and some representative approaches. We outline some of the typical application domains which serve as test beds for multirobot systems research in Sect. 53.10. Finally, we conclude in Sect. 53.11 with some summary remarks and suggestions for further reading.

Agents at play: Off-the-shelf software for practical multi-robot applications

Author  Enric Cervera, Jorge Sales, Leo Nomdedeu, Raul Marin, Veysel Gazi

Video ID : 192

This video focuses on how to use off-the-shelf components to design multirobot systems for real-world applications. The system makes use of Player and JADE as middleware, integrated using Java. The application that illustrates this system requires robots to visit destinations in an indoor environment, making use of market-based task allocation.

Handling of a single object by multiple mobile robots based on caster-like dynamics

Author  Yasuhisa Hirata, Youhei Kume, Zhi-dong Wang, Kazuhiro Kosuge

Video ID : 193

This video focuses on how to handle a single object using the coordination actions of multiple mobile robots. Each robot is controlled based on caster dynamics. The maneuverability of the object can be changed based on the caster offset of each robot. Caster dynamics in the 3-D space is extended to the 2-D plane using a virtual 3-D caster.

Synchronization and fault detection in autonomous rbots

Author  Andres Lyhne Christensen, Rehan O'Grady, Marco Dorigo

Video ID : 194

This video demonstrates a group of robots detecting faults in each other and simulating repair. The technique relies on visual fire-fly-like synchronization. Each robot synchronizes with the others based on the detection of LED lights and flashes using on-board cameras. The robots simulate fault and repair based on the frequency of flashes. The video shows an experiment with many robots working together and simulating faults and repairs.

Self-assembly and morphology control in a swarm-bot

Author  Rehan O'Grady, Andres Lyhne Christensen, Marco Dorigo

Video ID : 195

This video shows the capability of the swarm-bot mobile robot platform to self-assemble into a specific connected morphology. Each S-bot opens a connection slot by lighting its blue and green LEDs, which indicates the desired angle and the specific place for grasping by another S-bot. The video shows four different morphologies - star, line, arrow, and dense.

CKBOTS reconfigurable robots

Author  Mark Yim

Video ID : 196

This video shows reconfigurable robots, which are capable of a variety of configurations and modes of locomotion, including bipeds that can stand up and walk. This system is robust in a variety of situations, as shown in the video. The system has three clusters: when clusters disconnect, they enter a search mode and approach each other to assemble. After successful self-reassembling, the robot system stands up to continue its task.

Biologically-inspired, multi-vehicle control algorithm

Author  Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

Video ID : 197

This video demonstrates a behavior-based control algorithm for autonomous operations in militarily-useful scenarios on numerous hardware platforms. This video shows that the algorithm is robust in complex operational environments, enabling the autonomous vehicle to react quickly to changing battlefield conditions.

Metamorphic robotic system

Author  Amit Pamecha, Gregory Chirikjian

Video ID : 198

This video describes a metamorphic robotic system composed of many robotic modules, each of which has the ability to locomote over its neighbors. Mechanical coupling enables the robots to interact with each other.

Multi-robot box pushing

Author  C. Ronald Kube, Hong Zhang

Video ID : 199

Robots are used to locate an object in the environment (a box with lights on it) and push it to the desired position (an area of the environment with a light shining on it). The robots cannot communicate with each other, and the box is weighted so at least two robots have to push the box to move it. Each robot has three levels of control. First, it wanders randomly looking for the box. Second, it travels toward the box until contact is made. Third, it checks to see if the box is facing the desired direction; if so, it pushes the box, and, if not, it relocates to a different side of the box.

Elements of cooperative behavior in autonomous mobile robots

Author  David Jung, Gordon Cheng, Alexander Zelinsky

Video ID : 200

Two robots are used to demonstrate cooperative behavior with the application of cleaning. One robot sweeps particles along a wall into a pile, and the other robot uses a vacuum to clean up the pile. The robot with the vacuum tracks the location of the sweeping robot to find where the pile of particles has been left.

Coordination of multiple mobile platforms for manipulation and transportation

Author  Tom Sugar, Vijay Kumar

Video ID : 201

Multiple robots are used to pick up and transport boxes. In each case, one robot is designated the "leader." The leader steers the group and the other robot(s) follow it, supplying force to keep the box in place.