Robots Listen Only To The Leader When Building A Roving Quadcopter Landing Pad

Swarm robotics is really starting to produce some interesting results. This image is from the video embedded after the break that show a group of five robots creating a landing platform for a quadrotor helicopter. The four that actually make up the platform are not in contact with each other, but instead following commands from the leader. We’re impressed by the helicopter’s ability to target and land on the moving platform. Takeoff appears to be another issue, as the platform bots stop moving until the quadcopter is airborne again.

These robots are part of a Graduate project at Georgia Tech. [Ted Macdonald] has been working along with others to implement an organizational algorithm that guides the swarm. The method requires that the robots have an overview of the location of all others in the swarm. This is done with high-speed cameras like we’ve seen in other robotic control projects. But that doesn’t discourage us. If you already have a flying robot as part of the swarm, you might as well add a few more to serve as the eyes in the sky.


[Thanks Supertroopa via Engadget]

22 thoughts on “Robots Listen Only To The Leader When Building A Roving Quadcopter Landing Pad

  1. Can anyone explain to me the reason for the robots having to decide their own position in the formation, and only being given the relative positions of other robots? Is there a real world application to that aspect of the project other than efficiency?

    1. Real world situation modeling is usually done in GPS-denied and Comms limited situations to represent the worse case senario. Not like the group that does the dancing Quads instead a motion capture studio, that’s wishful thinking.

  2. @ZeroCool42: Live creatures don’t need communication to accomplish simple tasks. In school, when the sports teacher said to form a line, you would form it without talking to your colleagues: “you go there, I’ll go here, after him”
    So why should robots communicate? They just look at what others do and try to compensate to achieve the goal.

  3. i see army applications all over it.

    tactics with drones that just have gps and downlink , it’s up to them to do there bidding.

    protect the king command will be of use once again.

  4. @Fili: I think we could get into semantics with the word “communicate.” A lot of communication is going on when a group of kids get in a line, just may not be verbal.

    In this example, I wonder if some sort of hierarchy of the robots is in place so that if two robots aim to take the same position, one always has priority. Or maybe robot fights break out for positions, that could be fun!

    1. It would be interesting to have more robots than needed for certain tasks. Then each bot would have to decide to be part of that team or not.

      Of course, it’d still come down to the fat robot and the one with glasses…

  5. This could be a very useful technology for lunar or Mars exploration robots.

    I can see several MER type rovers with simple ISRU tending a hopper or a group of small lawn tractor sized bulldozers on the moon preparing a landing site for a larger manned lander.

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