The approach could be put to use in the future in service of astronauts making the journey to Mars
Months of lab work has led to this chilly day – by Florida standards – with four small, wheeled robots moving around the parking lot outside the Launch Control Center while their leader, Kurt Leucht, keeps electronic tabs on them using a laptop. He carries the laptop around as he tracks each of the four machines, occasionally tapping one off an obstacle or looking at the vehicle’s line of sight to figure out what its sensors are seeing.
Together, the robots are known as the “Swarmies” and it’s not their hardware that makes them noteworthy, but rather the coding each carries in its silicon brain that make them search the same way ants do. Each of the robots has its own camera and a set of hazard-avoidance sensors. They are rolling around looking for barcode sheets and leaving digital trails to tell the others when a whole lot of bar codes are found in one place.
“We’re trying to prove that there’s more efficient ways of searching than some other more common ways,” Leucht said. “It works really well for ants and we think it could work just as well for robots.”
Leucht isn’t controlling the robots in the way a radio-control hobbyist does – he’s not doing their thinking for them. Instead, he’s letting the software he and his team have been working on for months do the work of operating each robot independently. Besides, that’s the way mechanical creatures like this would have to operate on Mars if they are to be effective resource gatherers.
Working with computer engineer Caylyn Shelton at Kennedy and a research team at the University of New Mexico Biological Computation Lab, Leucht is using this parking lot test and dozens more just like it to try to see whether a search method based on foraging behaviors is more effective and productive than a conventional approach of scouring every square inch of an area or a purely random search. It is the same approach used by ants for eons to find and collect food and material.
The approach could be put to use in the future in service of astronauts making the journey to Mars.
One idea among many is to dispatch a corps of small robots capable of searching the Red Planet for water-ice and then digging it up for processing into breathing air and rocket fuel. The robots – purpose-built, flightworthy machines loaded with software like the coding Leucht is working on – would arrive at Mars months or years ahead of astronauts and use the lead-time to build up a storehouse of resources that would be waiting for the explorers from earth.
With each robot being small and weighing less than 10 pounds, a large fleet of searcher/gatherer machines could be sent into space on a single launch. With 100 robots tooling around on the surface, it also wouldn’t matter so much if several broke down because there would be plenty more to do the work.
Read more: Swarmies Shuffle Through Field Tests
The Latest on: Swarming Robots
via Google News
The Latest on: Swarming Robots
- Robotic assistant designs that prove these smart products can improve our quality of life!on November 13, 2020 at 3:40 am
Given the job losses happening in the world and the speed at which technology is evolving, the only way we can progress is if we embrace technology and its advancement and make them our sidekicks! The ...
- All the New Science Fiction Books Arriving in November!on November 11, 2020 at 7:00 am
Head below for the full list of science fiction titles heading your way in November! Keep track of all the new SFF releases here. You can also find horror titles scheduled for 2020 here. All title ...
- Why might you want a cyborg cockroach army in your house?on November 10, 2020 at 2:42 pm
Instead of building an army of tiny robots from scratch, why not just turn the insects that already live in your house into one? Thus we have the cyborg cockroach. The team fitted the incredibly ...
- 5 wildly popular products that won’t stop selling out at Amazonon November 9, 2020 at 2:19 pm
There are tons of killer deals available right now at Amazon with Black Friday 2020 just a few weeks away. The bad news, however, is that so many of the hottest deals keep selling out. Here, ...
- Magnetic FreeBOT orbs work together to climb large obstacleson November 9, 2020 at 1:56 pm
Each FreeBOT comes encased within an iron shell. Inside, there are a pair of motorized wheels and a single magnet — in that way, it’s not too dissimilar from one of Sphero’s adorable STEM toys. The ...
- Warplanes: Swarmware Goes To Waron November 8, 2020 at 2:32 am
Swarmware is the software required to make a group (a few to scores) of UAVs to move and automatically cooperate with each other to accomplish a mission without a human controller and even in the ...
- The drones that announced Joe Biden as the 46th president-electon November 6, 2020 at 4:00 pm
The drone air show business is not an easy one, only around two dozen such outfits exist worldwide. The company also keeps its drone manufacturing in-house with its M1 UAV. But for as complicated as ...
- Can A Computer Think Like A Pilot? It’s A Trivial Questionon November 4, 2020 at 12:11 pm
It’s kind of a quirky cultural travelogue boring beneath the surface of the usual tourist fare. In one of the episodes, it was revealed that 80 percent of the sushi sold in Japan is made by robots.
- 'Drone Swarm' Imagines Autonomous Warfare as a Huge Choreon November 4, 2020 at 6:08 am
An RTS finally explores all the promise of the classic Protoss Carrier unit, turns it into a cat-herding exercise.
- Researchers design robots with wheels that transform into legson November 4, 2020 at 2:54 am
One of the most efficient ways for robots to move around the environment is wheels on relatively smooth terrain. However, wheels aren’t the most efficient way of traveling when it comes to ...
via Bing News