Robot swarms controlled with single-finger tablet swipe

12 May 2015
By Tereza Pultarova
Mobile version
Share |
A new algorithm allows controlling swarms of robots via a tablet and a beam of light

A new algorithm allows controlling swarms of robots via a tablet and a beam of light

A new algorithm developed by American researchers enables operators to control large swarms of robots using a simple tablet computer and a beam of light.

Instead of programming the movements of each robot separately, the algorithm allows the controller to decide about the area where the robots operate.

A simple tap on the tablet’s screen determines where the beam of light appears on the floor. The robots then automatically travel towards the illuminated point, exchanging information between themselves in order to evenly cover the required area.

Swiping across the tablet display drags the beam across the floor, making the robots follow automatically. Two fingers on the display would prompt the swarm to split into two equally-sized groups.

"The field of swarm robotics gets difficult when you expect teams of robots to be as dynamic and adaptive as humans," said Magnus Egerstedt, Schlumberger Professor in Georgia Tech's School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. "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."

Egerstedt’s flexible algorithm provides the robots with a sufficient level of flexibility to harness their abilities in various situations, including search and rescue operations in disaster zones. In the demonstration, each robot constantly measured how much light was around him, whilst also communicating with his neighbours to achieve even coverage.

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

The simplicity of use would allow anyone to control the robots. Egerstedt envisions the robots could be sent in to an area stuck by a tsunami, where they would search for survivors, dividing themselves into equal sections. If some machines were suddenly needed in a new area, they could be redeployed by a tap on the tablet’s display. There are many other potential applications.

"In future, farmers could send machines into their fields to inspect the crops," said Yancy Diaz-Mercado, member of Egerstedt’s team. "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."

Latest Issue

E&T cover image 1607

"As the dust settles after the referendum result, we consider what happens next. We also look forward to an international summer of sport."

E&T jobs

  • Skilled Electrical Fitter

    MBDA
    • Bolton
    • Competitive Salary & Benefits

    What?s the opportunity?   The Electrical Fitter will carry out manufacturing and test tasks within the electrical department in accordance with product certification procedures, defined workmanship  ...

    • Recruiter: MBDA

    Apply for this job

  • Electrical Manufacturing Technician

    MBDA
    • Stevenage
    • Competitive Salary & Benefits

    What?s the opportunity?   As a qualified craftsman with experience in electrical manufacturing, the Manufacturing Technician will report to a Team Leader, receiving day to day ...

    • Recruiter: MBDA

    Apply for this job

  • Electrical Design Engineer

    Oxford Instruments
    • Yatton, Bristol
    • Competitive salary plus excellent benefits

    We are looking for an electrical designer to join our engineering design team.

    • Recruiter: Oxford Instruments

    Apply for this job

  • Consultant Engineer (Electrical Power)

    BAE Systems
    • Cumbria, Barrow-In-Furness, England
    • Negotiable

    Consultant Engineer (Electrical Power) Would you like to play a key role in providing technical direction to the design of power systems on the Successor class submarines, which will replace the current Trident-equipped Vanguard class, currently in servic

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

  • Electrician

    The Bristol Port Company
    • City of Bristol
    • C. £31,729 per annum plus supplements, benefits and overtime

    You’re a good team worker with a strong technical capacity – so bring your talents to a new role with one of the area’s leading employers.

    • Recruiter: The Bristol Port Company

    Apply for this job

  • Supply Restoration Team Manager (HV/SAP)

    SSE
    • Oxford, Oxfordshire
    • Salary: £37,588 to £49,645 + Car (SSE8) Depending on skills and experience

    SSE is looking to recruit a Supply Restoration Team Manager to join our existing team in Oxford.

    • Recruiter: SSE

    Apply for this job

  • Electrical Technical Lead - Global Operations, Engineering & Laboratory

    Pfizer Ltd
    • Kent

    An exciting opportunity has arisen to join a dynamic team of professional engineers, supporting the development of novel drugs.

    • Recruiter: Pfizer Ltd

    Apply for this job

  • Supply Restoration Team Manager (HV/SAP)

    SSE
    • Oxfordshire
    • Salary: £37,588 to £49,645 + Car (SSE8) Depending on skills and experience

    SSE is looking to recruit a Supply Restoration Team Manager into our office in Oxford.

    • Recruiter: SSE

    Apply for this job

  • Electronics & Control Systems Engineer

    Frazer-Nash Consultancy Ltd
    • Bristol, Burton, Glasgow, Plymouth, Warrington
    • £ Competitive + Benefits

    We are seeking talented Electronics Engineers at all career levels.

    • Recruiter: Frazer-Nash Consultancy Ltd

    Apply for this job

  • Control and Instrumentation Engineers

    Frazer-Nash Consultancy Ltd
    • Bristol, Burton, Glasgow, Gloucester
    • £ Competitive + Benefits

    Frazer-Nash is currently embarking on a period of significant growth of our electrical, electronics, control and instrumentation capability.

    • Recruiter: Frazer-Nash Consultancy Ltd

    Apply for this job

More jobs ▶

Subscribe

Choose the way you would like to access the latest news and developments in your field.

Subscribe to E&T