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A general algorithm for robot formations using local sensing and minimal communication

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2 Author(s)
Fredslund, J. ; Dept. of Comput. Sci., Aarhus Univ., Arhus, Denmark ; Mataric, M.J.

We study the problem of achieving global behavior in a group of distributed robots using only local sensing and minimal communication, in the context of formations. The goal is to have N mobile robots establish and maintain some predetermined geometric shape. We report results from extensive simulation experiments, and 40+ experiments with four physical robots, showing the viability of our approach. The key idea is that each robot keeps a single friend at a desired angle θ, using some appropriate sensor. By panning the sensor by θ degrees, the goal for all formations becomes simply to center the friend in the sensor's field of view. We also present a general analytical measure for evaluating formations and apply it to the position data from both simulation and physical robot experiments. We used two lasers to track the physical robots to obtain ground truth validation data.

Published in:

Robotics and Automation, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:18 ,  Issue: 5 )