Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors


Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > A swarm on every desktop: Robotics experts learn from public: Swarm robotics researchers at Rice University gather data with online game

Postdoctoral researcher Aaron Becker designed a new control algorithm that allows swarms of r-one robots from Rice's Multi-Robot Systems Laboratory to complete complex tasks -- including spelling out Rice's trademark R.

CREDIT: Jeff Fitlow/Rice University
Postdoctoral researcher Aaron Becker designed a new control algorithm that allows swarms of r-one robots from Rice's Multi-Robot Systems Laboratory to complete complex tasks -- including spelling out Rice's trademark R.

CREDIT: Jeff Fitlow/Rice University

Abstract:
The next experiment from Rice University's Multi-Robot Systems Laboratory (MRSL) could happen on your desktop. The lab's researchers are refining their control algorithms for robotic swarms based upon data from five free online games that anyone can play.

A swarm on every desktop: Robotics experts learn from public: Swarm robotics researchers at Rice University gather data with online game

Houston, TX | Posted on September 9th, 2013

"What we learn from the game and our lab experiments applies directly to real-world challenges," said Aaron Becker, a postdoctoral researcher at MRSL. "For example, if a doctor had a swarm of several thousand microscopic robots, each carrying a tiny payload of anti-cancer drugs, might it be possible to have them all converge on a tumor using magnetic signals from an MRI machine?"

In the games, players use simple commands to move groups of robots through mazes and around obstacles. Sometimes the goal is to push a larger object to a particular spot. Other times the goal is to move the collective to a target or to have it assume a specific shape. Each time a game is played, the website collects information about how the task was completed. Becker said the data will be used to develop new control algorithms for robot swarms.

"The data from these games will help us better understand how to use multi-robot systems with massive populations to perform coordinated, complex tasks," said lab director James McLurkin, assistant professor of computer science at Rice.

To demonstrate the kind of complex behaviors that can be achieved with simple commands, Becker videotaped an experiment over the Labor Day weekend in which a swarm of a dozen randomly scattered r-one robots were directed to form a complex shape -- a capital R. To direct the robots, Becker used a basic controller -- a simple one-button, '80s-era videogame joystick that was capable of giving only two commands: rotate and roll forward.

"The robots are all connected to the same joystick, so each robot received exactly the same commands," Becker said.

The experiments were the latest to use the r-one, an inexpensive yet sophisticated multi-robot system that McLurkin began designing in 2009. Each bagel-sized r-one has a radio, a motor, two wheels, dozens of sensors and onboard electronics. R-ones are up to 10 times less expensive than previously available research-grade swarm robots.

In the Labor Day experiment, Becker's control algorithm directed each r-one in the swarm to a unique, pre-programmed, end position. The algorithm did this by taking advantage of slight differences in each robot's response to the two simple commands. In a computer simulation, Becker also showed how the same technique could be used to direct a 120-robot swarm to both spell out "Rice" and display the shape of the university's owl mascot.

"The controller commands all the robots to rotate, and prior to giving the forward command, the controller measures the location and orientation of each member of the swarm with an overhead camera," Becker said. "The algorithm collapses all of that information into a single number -- a measurement of error -- and tries to make this error as small as possible."

To reduce the error measure, the controller exploits "rotational noise."

"Each time the joystick tells the robots to turn, every robot turns a slightly different amount due to random wheel slip," Becker said. "The controller uses these differences to slowly drive the swarm to its goal. This is where the algorithmic results are critical. It might take thousands of individual commands to produce a complex shape, but the proof shows that the algorithm will always produce the desired goal positions."

"It's counterintuitive," McLurkin said. "Common sense would seem to indicate that you'd need to issue individual commands to each robot to move the group into complex patterns, but that is not the case. The beauty of the algorithm is that each simple move brings the entire group closer to the goal."

He said the demonstration is the first step toward a more ambitious goal.

"Aaron's new work is aimed at using environmental obstacles to perform more complex tasks and to simultaneously control hundreds or thousands of robots," McLurkin said. "That may sound like science fiction, but Rice chemist James Tour is developing massive populations of nanorobots right now, just two buildings over. His group can build many trillions of these in a single batch."

Becker said the current algorithm is slow, and data from the online games will be used to design new control algorithms that are as much as 200 times faster.

Becker, who will wrap up a yearlong postdoctoral stint at MRSL later this month, will continue his research at his next postdoctoral assignment at Harvard University and Boston Children's Hospital.

MRSL research is supported by the National Science Foundation.

####

About Rice University
Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation's top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,708 undergraduates and 2,374 graduate students, Rice's undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice has been ranked No. 1 for best quality of life multiple times by the Princeton Review and No. 2 for "best value" among private universities by Kiplinger's Personal Finance. To read "What they're saying about Rice," go to tinyurl.com/AboutRiceU.

Follow Rice News and Media Relations via Twitter @RiceUNews

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
David Ruth
713-348-6327


Jade Boyd
713-348-6778

Copyright © Rice University

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related Links

SwarmControl game:

Multi-Robot Systems Lab:

Related News Press

News and information

Yale researchersí technology turns wasted heat into power June 27th, 2016

FEI Launches Helios G4 DualBeam Series for Materials Science: The Helios G4 DualBeam Series features new capabilities to enable scientists and engineers to answer the most demanding and challenging scientific questions June 27th, 2016

Russian physicists create a high-precision 'quantum ruler': Physicists have devised a method for creating a special quantum entangled state June 25th, 2016

Nanoscientists develop the 'ultimate discovery tool': Rapid discovery power is similar to what gene chips offer biology June 25th, 2016

Videos/Movies

'On-the-fly' 3-D print system prints what you design, as you design it June 1st, 2016

Revealing the nature of magnetic interactions in manganese oxide: New technique for probing local magnetic interactions confirms 'superexchange' model that explains how the material gets its long-range magnetic order May 25th, 2016

Programmable materials find strength in molecular repetition May 23rd, 2016

Graphene makes rubber more rubbery May 23rd, 2016

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Nanoscientists develop the 'ultimate discovery tool': Rapid discovery power is similar to what gene chips offer biology June 25th, 2016

Ultrathin, flat lens resolves chirality and color: Multifunctional lens could replace bulky, expensive machines June 25th, 2016

Particle zoo in a quantum computer: First experimental quantum simulation of particle physics phenomena June 23rd, 2016

Titan shines light on high-temperature superconductor pathway: Simulation demonstrates how superconductivity arises in cuprates' pseudogap phase June 22nd, 2016

Molecular Machines

Rice University's nanosubs gain better fluorescent properties for tracking June 17th, 2016

Little ANTs: Researchers build the world's tiniest engine May 3rd, 2016

Researchers create artificial protein to control assembly of buckyballs April 27th, 2016

Physicists build engine consisting of one atom: World's smallest heat engine uses just a single particle April 17th, 2016

Molecular Nanotechnology

Discovery of gold nanocluster 'double' hints at other shape-changing particles: New analysis approach brings two unique atomic structures into focus June 19th, 2016

Discovery of gold nanocluster 'double' hints at other shape changing particles: New analysis approach brings two unique atomic structures into focus June 15th, 2016

DNA shaping up to be ideal framework for rationally designed nanostructures: Shaped DNA frames that precisely link nanoparticles into different structures offer a platform for designing functional nanomaterials June 14th, 2016

Nanocars taken for a rough ride: Rice, NC State researchers test single-molecule cars in open air June 1st, 2016

Nanomedicine

Nanoscientists develop the 'ultimate discovery tool': Rapid discovery power is similar to what gene chips offer biology June 25th, 2016

Nanotechnology and math deliver two-in-one punch for cancer therapy resistance June 24th, 2016

Self-assembling icosahedral protein designed: Self-assembling icosahedral protein designed June 22nd, 2016

Stealth nanocapsules kill Chagas parasites in mouse models June 22nd, 2016

Discoveries

Yale researchersí technology turns wasted heat into power June 27th, 2016

Superheroes are real: Ultrasensitive nonlinear metamaterials for data transfer June 25th, 2016

Russian physicists create a high-precision 'quantum ruler': Physicists have devised a method for creating a special quantum entangled state June 25th, 2016

Nanoscientists develop the 'ultimate discovery tool': Rapid discovery power is similar to what gene chips offer biology June 25th, 2016

Announcements

Yale researchersí technology turns wasted heat into power June 27th, 2016

FEI Launches Helios G4 DualBeam Series for Materials Science: The Helios G4 DualBeam Series features new capabilities to enable scientists and engineers to answer the most demanding and challenging scientific questions June 27th, 2016

Russian physicists create a high-precision 'quantum ruler': Physicists have devised a method for creating a special quantum entangled state June 25th, 2016

Nanoscientists develop the 'ultimate discovery tool': Rapid discovery power is similar to what gene chips offer biology June 25th, 2016

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







Car Brands
Buy website traffic