These Mobile Robots Learn To Move Together Without Colliding

Posted: Sep 8 2016, 11:28am CDT | by , in Latest Science News


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These Mobile Robots Learn to Move Together Without Colliding
Researchers at Georgia Tech have developed algorithms that allow autonomous robots to loosen up on safety a little in order to get the job done. Credit: Georgia Tech
  • Group of Robots work in Tandem without any Collisions

A group of robots are learning how to work in tandem without any collisions.

The science of robotics has scientists building behavioral repertoires for robots. These include various routines and algorithms. They allow the robots to perform a number of tasks.

Finally a couple of safety measures are employed to prevent these robots from bumping and grinding into each other. The goal is to prevent any accidents. Each robot has an imaginary circle that surrounds it. No other robot must enter that circle.

As long as other robots do not come close to that personal space, things are hunky dory. Yet problems still crop up time after time. When too many robots interact with each other, they tend to focus more on not getting in each other’s way.

The end result is that they hardly move or get the job done. Thus thanks to precaution, the robots just do not act and tend to freeze in an analysis paralysis situation. Were they to make a move, their personal spaces would be invaded and that would be a big blunder in itself.

A researcher has provided a new tool that allows robots to come to within inches of each other and yet manage to do their prescribed tasks. This is the first time such algorithms have been made that allow such a close-range series of movements to the robots.

It is practical and very efficient. In ordinary language, it can be said that the space bubble of each robot has been shrunk a lot without the danger of collision.

This is a fine method of allowing the tasks to be accomplished without any hitches or glitches along the way. Four robots were employed in an experiment to show this method in action.

These robots meet after a brief foray and then pass each other and carry on into their respective directions. It is a series of smooth free flowing movements that get accomplished without a snag.

Nothing is left to chance and the process works beautifully. While the robots are independent in their acts, they do not trip or dog each other’s steps. It all takes place with harmony and synchronicity.

The avoidance of collisions can be seen in other examples of robotics. Google’s self-driving cars come to mind. Yet while there have been no cases of thousands of self-driving cars on the streets, these robots do show exactly such a principle although on a small scale. The spinoffs of this experiment are myriad.

Swarm of robots might collide with each other when performing complicated tasks. It's often hard to plan swarm behavior with non-intrusive collision avoidance. This video shows how a minimally invasive safety controller can be added in order for safety and higher-level objectives to be achieved simultaneously.

The paper about the project, "Multi-objective Compositions for Collision-Free Connectivity Maintenance in Teams of Mobile Robots," will be presented at this year's IEEE Conference on Decision and Control in Las Vegas.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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