Distributed Autonomous Micro Robots: From Small Clusters to a Real Swarm
In classical micro robotics, highly integrated and specialised robots have been developed in the past years, which are able to perform micromanipulations controlled by a central high-level control system. On the other hand, technology is still far away from the first “artificial ant” which would integrate all capabilities of these simple, yet highly efficient swarm building insects.
This has been the motivation of other research fields focusing on studying such swarm behaviour and transferring it to simulation or physical robot agents. Realisations of small robot groups of 10 to 20 robots are capable to mimic some aspects of such social insects, however, the employed robots are usually huge compared to their natural counterparts, and very limited in terms of perception, manipulation and co-operation capabilities.
This paper describes work currently being carried out within two EC-funded projects which aim to take a leap forward in robotics research, in distributed and adaptive systems as well as in self-organizing biological swarm systems. The first project, MiCRoN, will establish a small cluster of (up to five) micro robots equipped with on-board electronics, sensors and wireless power supply, while the second project, I-Swarm, aims at technological advances to facilitate the mass-production of micro robots, which can then be employed as a “real” swarm consisting of up to 1,000 robot clients. These clients will all be equipped with limited, pre-rational onboard intelligence. The swarm will consist of a huge number of heterogeneous robots, differing in the type of sensors, manipulators and computational power. Such a robot swarm is expected to perform a variety of applications, including micro assembly, biological, medical or cleaning tasks.
KeywordsRobotic Research Wireless Power Robotic Swarm Robot Swarm Cleaning Task
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