10 Sep '13, 2pm

How to Control Hundreds of Dumb Robots with One Clever Remote

Inspired by this comic, Aaron Becker set out to show that it is, in fact, possible to do what Jason Fox has done: use one remote to steer a bunch of similar (but not identical) robots into arbitrary positions and orientations, with just forward, backward, and rotate commands that affect all the robots equally. The secret, it turns out, is to take advantage of the rotational noise of the robots. When you send a turn command to your robot swarm, factors like random wheel slip cause each robot to turn a slightly different amount. A computer can track this, and with a clever algorithm, it can exploit it to gradually move robots relative to each other. This video shows the algorithm in action:

Full article: http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/artificial-in...

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