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SWARM-BOTS Sintesi della relazione

Project ID: IST-2000-31010
Finanziato nell'ambito di: FP5-IST
Paese: Belgium

Algorithms for cooperative transport by a swarm of robots

Cooperative transport refers to the capability of a group of s-bots to transport a heavy object from its initial location to a target zone. Our initial studies focused on the design of artificial neural networks by artificial evolution to control the actions of a group of s-bots whose task was to pull and/or push a heavy object in an arbitrarily chosen direction. In this case, the s-bots could only interact through their physical embodiment to coordinate their actions during the approach and transport phase. In a second study, we designed artificial neural networks to control a group of s-bots that had first to connect to the object and then transport it towards a target location. The best of the evolved controllers efficiently transported the object as required. Furthermore, these controllers proved robust with respect to variations in the size and shape of the object they had to transport.

We also studied the situation in which some s-bots were able to locate the transport target, while the others were not. To enable a blind s-bot to contribute to the group's performance, it was equipped both with sensors to perceive whether or not it was moving and sensors to detect the traction forces acting between its turret and its chassis. For group sizes ranging from 2 to 16, it was shown, in simulation, that blind s-bots make an essential contribution to the group's performance. The controllers for cooperative transport have been ported and validated on the real s-bots, using groups of up to 6 s-bots. In the experiments involving blind s-bots, it was verified that the blind s-bots do not behave disruptively. On the contrary, it was shown that they can make an essential contribution to the performance of the group. The same controllers also proved successful at transporting the object over various types of rough terrain. Furthermore, the controllers also enabled the swarm-bot to navigate over terrain with holes in it. (Some of these holes were sufficiently large that they defeated even a chain of two s-bots.)

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Université Libre de Bruxelles
Ave. F. Roosevelt 50
1050 Brussels
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