Wednesday, May 18, 2005

More Money for Swarms

Engineers to Develop Robot Swarms from MARS

Engineers at the University of Pennsylvania have received a $5 million grant from the Department of Defense to develop large-scale "swarms" of robots that could work together to thoroughly search large areas from the ground and sky.
The Scalable Swarms of Autonomous Robots and Sensors or the Swarms Project, as it is known takes organizational cues from the natural world where tens or even hundreds of small, independent robots work together to accomplish specific tasks, such as finding a bomb in a crowded city.

Penn's General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception Laboratory will receive the five-year grant from the federal government under the Defense Department's Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative program. The Swarms project is based upon the success of the GRASP Lab's smaller-scale Multiple Autonomous Robotics project, which managed the movement and behavior of about a dozen robots.

While MARS demonstrated the feasibility of such a program, the Swarms Project will take the complexity involved to a new level. To get a better grasp of swarming behavior, Kumar and his colleagues are looking to the natural world for inspiration.

The Swarms Project brings together a cross-disciplinary team of researchers with expertise in artificial intelligence, control theory, robotics, systems engineering and biology. They will take cues from the sort of group behaviors that appear in beehives, ant colonies, wolf packs, bird flocks and fish schools. But the GRASP researchers are also working with molecular and cell biologists interested in the complicated signaling processes and group behaviors that go on inside and among cells.

Engineers to Develop Robot Swarms from MARS

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