SpinBot: An Autonomous, Externally Actuated Robot for Swarm Applications

Andrew SaLoutos*, Michael Rubenstein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Scopus citations


Complexity, cost, and power requirements of individual robots are large factors in limiting the size of robotic swarms. In this paper, we present a prototype robot, the SpinBot, that is externally actuated via an orbital table and has only one infrared sensor pair for communication and sensing. The SpinBot can move autonomously in 2D by activating and de-activating its only onboard actuator, an electro-permanent magnet, and can communicate and sense the angles between its neighbors. The angle sensing is accomplished by adding a bearing to the robot chassis and offsetting the center of mass from the point of attachment between the SpinBot and the table surface, so that the upper part of SpinBot rotates about itself at the same frequency as the orbital table. We describe the design of the SpinBot in detail, and present results from our implementation of a centering algorithm for a group of four SpinBots which utilizes the SpinBot’s unique sensing and locomotion abilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSpringer Proceedings in Advanced Robotics
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media B.V.
Number of pages14
StatePublished - 2019

Publication series

NameSpringer Proceedings in Advanced Robotics
ISSN (Print)2511-1256
ISSN (Electronic)2511-1264


  • External actuation
  • Sensing
  • Swarm robotics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics


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