Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Grant to Develop Robot Swarms

May 16, 2005

Couple Receive Grant to Develop Robots

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) - A couple who work in the University of Wyoming's Computer Science Department have received a $100,000 National Science Foundation grant to further develop tiny robots that could help clean up oil spills or respond to a terrorist attack.

"Somebody from the National Science Foundation came out here and said we had the best robotics work he'd ever seen," Diana Spears said.

Spears and her husband, William, envision robots that would communicate with one another, relaying information back to humans or to a larger robot that would take care of the problem.

A swarm of small robots would cover a larger area more quickly than a single robot, and if one failed, the others could take up the slack.

The robots would travel in a formation based on a theory developed by William Spears.

They plan to have an operational system in about a year, when they hope to hold demonstrations for the military and others.

Eventually they hope to develop robots that could fly or swim. "When we get our demos going of what our robots can do, that's going to really wow people," Spears said.

Las Vegas SUN: Couple Receive Grant to Develop Robots

More on swarm robotics from swarm-robotics.org:

Swarm robotics can be defined as the study of how a swarm of relatively simple physically embodied agents can be contructed to collectively accomplish tasks that are beyond the capabilities of a single one. Different from other studies on multi-robot systems, swarm robotics emphasizes self-organization and emergence while keeping in mind the issues of scalability and robustness. These emphases promote the use of relatively simple robots, equipped with localized sensing abilities, scalable communication mechanisms and the exploration of decentralized control strategies.


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