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17 Fast Low Cost Swarm Robots
Michael Bartmess
Paul Ernst
Peter Cork
Dongwei Shi design_review
The project is to create a fleet of low-cost robots capable of moving quickly in a coordinated fashion. Each robot will be relatively small, smaller than a human fist, and the area of movement would be roughly the size of a table. Our goal would be to build 16 of them. Since the cost of each robot is multiplied by the size of the fleet, making a design that allows the robots to coordinate without using too many sensors is highly beneficial.
Currently, swarm robots either are too slow or are too expensive. A prime example would be the Zooids project from Stanford, where the robots each use a high-quality IR sensor to decode their coordinates beamed from an expensive 3000Hz projector. This both limits the granularity of the positioning system and increases cost.

Our method for coordinating the robots would be to use a 1080p webcam mounted overhead and use machine vision to identify the robots locations and orientation. The vision system would then send the current locations, orientations, and destination locations to the robot over WiFi. From there, the robots would utilize the information to move towards the destination location. The vision system will likely run off of a laptop and use a router to send the information over WiFi.

Each robot would be equipped with an ESP8285 SoC which integrates a microcontroller with a WiFi chip, an antenna, motor controllers, two stepper motors for precise movement, and a battery with charging circuitry. The shell of the robot and PCB would both be designed by us. The robot would also feature some variety of a vision target on the top to assist the camera in identifying the robot and its location.

Amphibious Spherical Explorer

Kaiwen Chen, Junhao Su, Zhong Tan

Amphibious Spherical Explorer

Featured Project

The amphibious spherical explorer (ASE) is a spherical robot for home monitoring, outdoor adventure or hazardous environment surveillance. Due to the unique shape of the robot, ASE can travel across land, dessert, swamp or even water by itself, or be casted by other devices (e.g. slingshot) to the mission area. ASE has a motion-sensing system based on Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) and rotary magnetic encoder, which allows the internal controller to adjust its speed and attitude properly. The well-designed control system makes the robot free of visible wobbliness when it is taking actions like acceleration, deceleration, turning and rest. ASE is also a platform for research on control system design. The parameters of the internal controller can be assigned by an external control panel in computer based on MATLAB Graphic User Interface (GUI) which communicates with the robot via a WiFi network generated by the robot. The response of the robot can be recorded and sent back to the control panel for further analysis. This project is completely open-sourced. People who are interested in the robot can continue this project for more interesting features, such as adding camera for real-time surveillance, or controller design based on machine learning.

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