Massive uniform manipulation: Controlling large populations of simple robots with a common input signal

Aaron Becker, Golnaz Habibi, Justin Werfel, Michael Rubenstein, James McLurkin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

61 Scopus citations

Abstract

Roboticists, biologists, and chemists are now producing large populations of simple robots, but controlling large populations of robots with limited capabilities is difficult, due to communication and onboard-computation constraints. Direct human control of large populations seems even more challenging. In this paper we investigate control of mobile robots that move in a 2D workspace using three different system models. We focus on a model that uses broadcast control inputs specified in the global reference frame. In an obstacle-free workspace this system model is uncontrollable because it has only two controllable degrees of freedom - all robots receive the same inputs and move uniformly. We prove that adding a single obstacle can make the system controllable, for any number of robots. We provide a position control algorithm, and demonstrate through extensive testing with human subjects that many manipulation tasks can be reliably completed, even by novice users, under this system model, with performance benefits compared to the alternate models. We compare the sensing, computation, communication, time, and bandwidth costs for all three system models. Results are validated with extensive simulations and hardware experiments using over 100 robots.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationIROS 2013
Subtitle of host publicationNew Horizon, Conference Digest - 2013 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems
Pages520-527
Number of pages8
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2013
Event2013 26th IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems: New Horizon, IROS 2013 - Tokyo, Japan
Duration: Nov 3 2013Nov 8 2013

Publication series

NameIEEE International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems
ISSN (Print)2153-0858
ISSN (Electronic)2153-0866

Other

Other2013 26th IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems: New Horizon, IROS 2013
Country/TerritoryJapan
CityTokyo
Period11/3/1311/8/13

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Software
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Computer Science Applications

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