Swarm robots cooperate with augmented-reality drone

October 24, 2012

We’re starting to see swarms of heterogeneous robots, with different robots combining their powers to make each other more efficient and more capable. One of the first projects to really make this work was Swarmanoid, with teams of footbots and handbots and eyebots, and researchers presented a similar idea at IROS earlier this month, using an augmented-reality drone to help a swarm of self-assembling ground robots to climb over a hill.

Since the ground robots can’t see very far, they rely on the quadrotor to scout ahead and estimate the parameters of upcoming obstacles. Then, the quadrotor instructs the swarm on the ground how to team up to best overcome those obstacles. With the hill, for example, the quadrotor can use stereo imagery to compute how steep it is, run an onboard simulation to see how many ground robots will have to team up to make it over, and then give instruction and direction to the robots below.