Tagged: Robotic Swarm

Robot Swarms Could Help Colonize Mars

Robot Swarms Could Help Colonize Mars I-SWARM Project 31018

Hundreds of micro-robots will work together to carry out repairs inside machinery, explore deep-sea environments, and even colonize Mars, according to predictions from the EU-funded I-SWARM project. Marc Szymanski, from the University of Karlsruhe, is part of a team that is developing centimeter-scale autonomous robots that co-operate like a colony of ants. The project has already produced 100 micro-robots, and is close to a mass-producible model.

The benefit of a robotic swarm is that the group can compensate for the failure of individual members. If I-SWARM succeeds in making the design mass-producible, a programmable robotic swarm could be cheaply applied in a wide variety of fields.

Robot swarms are particularly useful in situations where you need high redundancy. If one robot malfunctions or is damaged it does not cause the mission to fail because another robot simply steps in to fill its place,” Szymanski explains.

The key to the effectiveness of micro-robots is their ability to communicate and collaborate. Ants accomplish this by emitting chemicals, but Szymanski’s team has chosen a different approach. When triggered to communicate, the I-SWARM robots broadcast infrared light – the robots that receive this signal then broadcast it to their neighbors, and so on, until the message is completely dispersed. In this way, a robot can call for assistance when trying to accomplish a task too challenging for individual members of the group.

SMAVNET Robots Create Communications Networks for Disaster Relief 31017

Swarms of flying robots might sound a bit ominous to those of us anxiously awaiting the inevitable robot uprising that will see humanity drop a notch on the scale of planetary dominance. But swarms of flying robots are just what a project at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland is working to create. However, instead of keeping an eye on prisoners in a robot-run internment camp, the Swarming Micro Air Vehicle Network (SMAVNET) Project aims to develop robot swarms that can be deployed in disaster areas to rapidly create communication networks for rescuers.

The individual micro air vehicles (MAVs) are built out of Expanded Polypropylene (EPP) resulting in a weight of just 420g (14.8 ounces). With a wingspan of 80cm (31.5-inches) the MAVs have an electric motor mounted at the back and two control surfaces serving as elevons (combined ailerons and elevator). The robots run on a lithium polymer (LiPo) battery that provides 30 minutes of flying time.