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A fully distributed communication-based approach for spatial clustering in robotic swarms

  • Authors: Di Caro, G. A.; Ducatelle, F.; Gambardella, L.

In this work we propose a novel fully distributed approach to endow robots in a swarm with awareness of their relative position with respect to the rest of the swarm. Such spatial awareness can be used to support spatially differentiated task allocation or for pattern formation. In particular, we aim to partition the robots in the swarm in two (or more) distinct and spatially segregated groups. The distributed approach we propose only relies on local wireless communications and is based on a combination of distributed consensus and load balancing. We propose two metrics to measure the effectiveness of the obtained partitioning and we test the performance and the scalability of our algorithm in extensive simulation experiments. We also validate it in a small set of experiments with real robots.

Posted on: April 30, 2012

Cooperative navigation in robotic swarms

  • Authors: Ducatelle, Frederick; Caro, Di; Gianni, A.; Förster, Alexander; Bonani, Michael; Dorigo, Marco; Magnenat, Stéphane; Mondada, Francesco; O’Grady, Rehan; Pinciroli, Carlo; Rétornaz, Philippe; Trianni, Vito; Gambardella, Luca M.

We study cooperative navigation for robotic swarms in the context of a general event-servicing scenario. In the scenario, one or more events need to be serviced at specific locations by robots with the required skills. We focus on the question of how the swarm can inform its members about events, and guide robots to event locations. We propose a solution based on delay-tolerant wireless communications: by forwarding navigation information between them, robots cooperatively guide each other towards event locations. Such a collaborative approach leverages on the swarm’s intrinsic redundancy, distribution, and mobility. At the same time, the forwarding of navigation messages is the only form of cooperation that is required. This means that the robots are free in terms of their movement and location, and they can be involved in other tasks, unrelated to the navigation of the searching robot. This gives the system a high level of flexibility in terms of application scenarios, and a high degree of robustness with respect to robot failures or unexpected events. We study the algorithm in two different scenarios, both in simulation and on real robots. In the first scenario, a single searching robot needs to find a single target, while all other robots are involved in tasks of their own. In the second scenario, we study collective navigation: all robots of the swarm navigate back and forth between two targets, which is a typical scenario in swarm robotics. We show that in this case, the proposed algorithm gives rise to synergies in robot navigation, and it lets the swarm self-organize into a robust dynamic structure. The emergence of this structure improves navigation efficiency and lets the swarm find shortest paths.

Posted on: December 3, 2013

Distributed consensus for interaction between humans and mobile robot swarms

  • Authors: Giusti, A.; Nagi, J.; Gambardella, L.; Di Caro, G. A.

The purpose of the demonstrator is to present a novel system for gesture-based interaction between humans and a swarm of mobile robots. The human interacts with the swarm by showing hand gestures using an orange glove. Following initial hand glove detection, the robots move to adapt their positions and viewpoints. The purpose is to improve individual sensing performance and maximize the gesture information mutually gathered by the swarm as a whole. Using multi-hop message relaying, robots spread their opinions and the associated confidence about the issued hand gesture throughout the swarm. To let the robots in the swarm integrate and weight the different opinions, we developed a distributed consensus protocol. When a robot has gathered enough evidence, it takes a decision for the hand gesture, and sends it into the swarm. Different decisions compete with each other. The one assessed with the highest confidence eventually wins. When consensus is reached about the hand gesture, the swarm acts accordingly, for example by moving to a location, or splitting into groups. The working of the system is shown and explained in the video accessible at the following address: gianni/SwarmRobotics/

Posted on: April 30, 2012

Localization of emergency acoustic sources by micro aerial vehicles

  • Authors: Basiri, Meysam; Schill, Felix; Lima, Pedro; Floreano, Dario

For micro aerial vehicles (MAVs) involved in search and rescue missions, the ability to locate the source of a distress sound signal is significantly important and allows fast localization of victims and rescuers during nighttime, through foliage and in dust, fog, and smoke. Most emergency sound sources, such as safety whistles and personal alarms, generate a narrowband signal that is difficult to localize by human listeners or with the common localization methods suitable for broadband sounds. In this paper, we present three methods for MAV-based emergency sound localization system. The first method involves designing a new emergency source for immediate localization by the MAV using a common localization method. The other two novel methods allow localizing the currently available emergency sources, or other narrowband sounds in general, that are difficult to localize due to the periodicity in the sequence of sound samples. The second method exploits the Doppler shift in the sound frequency, caused due to the motion of the MAV and the dynamics of the MAV to assist with the localization. The third method involves active control of the robot’s attitude and fusing acoustic and attitude measurements for achieving accurate and robust estimates. We evaluate our methods in real-world experiments with real flying robots.

Posted on: July 12, 2017

Spatial awareness in robotic swarms through local wireless communications

  • Authors: Ducatelle, F.; Di Caro, G. A.; Gambardella, L. M.

We propose a fully distributed approach to endow robots in a swarm with awareness of their relative position with respect to the rest of the swarm. Such spatial awareness can be used to support spatially differentiated task allocation or for pattern formation. The approach we propose only relies on local communications and is based on a combination of distributed consensus and load balancing. We test the eeffectiveness of our algorithm in extensive simulation tests and we also validate it in experiments with real robots.

Posted on: August 27, 2012