Developing a Low-Cost Robot Colony

Presented at AAAI symposium in November of 2007.

Development Notes

Felix fist-shaking.



Questions to answer

1. What is research about?
2. Who are you guys?
3. Why should we care?
4. What do you have? What are these robots capable of doing?
5. What AI related stuff you done? Can you show us what the potential of this robot colony is for AI research?
6. Is this significant? Why should I care about this when I leave?

Salient points we want to get across and in order

1. Real Low-Cost Robot Platform for multi-agent research
2. Feature-filled cheap robots
3. Interesting tools for trying out AI algorithms
4. Ongoing project continually improving


  • Overview of our research and project
  • Intro to our Robots
    • Dragonfly Basics
    • BOM
    • XBee
    • --cheap but capable robots
  • Basic Behaviors
    • Obstacle Avoidance - DEMO
    • Lemmings - DEMO
  • Wireless Infrastructure
    • Token Ring
    • --intelligent network
    • Cooperative Maze Solving - Diagram
      • --NOTE: there are demos of this, particularly and IR one that shows off the BOM...though it involves hands
      • --NOTE: that and they are using the firefly+ which is why we're not using them
  • Autonomous Recharging
    • Charging Station
    • ARCHS + Homing Sensor + Battery Level Detection
    • Bay Allocation - DEMO
    • --smart autonomous recharging for long run tests
  • ColoNet
    • Wireless Network Monitoring
    • Remote Colony Monitoring - Screenshot
    • Visualize Token Ring - Screenshot
    • --handy debugging/interaction tool
  • Future
    • Mapping
      • --test different approaches to mapping
    • Remote Task Queuing
      • --explore scheduling problems
    • Hardware Improvements
      • Range & Bearing
      • Object Manipulation
        • --explore resource problems
        • --explore cooperative manipulation
  • Questions


  • Developing a Low-Cost Robot Colony
  • Overview of the Colony Project
    • Undergraduate and Graduate research team building a low-cost platform for multi-agent robotics research
    • Multi-agent - multiple robots communicating with each other
    • Platform - focus on building a platform for research, not specific applications
      • By providing a cheap platform, you can simulate more agents with less money
    • Applied - real robots, not simulation
  • Colony Robots
    • Simple chasis with two wheels connected to differential drive servo motors
    • Lots of Features
      • Buttons, Buzzers, Multicolor LEDs for debugging
    • AVR ATMega128 - industry standard low-cost embedded 8-bit microcontroller with hardware support for many features
      • USART, TWI (I2C), SPI, 10-bit A/D, Multiple Timers/Counters, 52 I/O
    • ARCHS charge board
      • Current and voltage regulation
      • Controls homing sensor for recharging
  • Sensors
    • Sharp Infrared Rangefinders
      • Simple short distance sensor
      • 5 of these onboard
    • BOM
      • Infrared Localization Sensor
      • Gives orientation of other robots and where in relationship to you they are
  • Lemmings DEMO
  • XBee Module
    • 802.15.4 Low-power short range wireless
  • Wireless Infrastructure
    • PAN, Point to Point, Global
    • Higher level library allows the functions to be ported to different systems quickly and easily
    • Integrates special packets for global and emergency (recharge, change task, etc) communication
    • Token Ring
      • Prevent multiple BOM flashes from happening simultaneously
      • Allows robots to know exactly who is flashing and record their location
    • Sensor matrix gets passed around
      • Matrix of present robots and who can see who and where in relation to them they are
  • Coop Maze Solving DEMO
  • Autonomous Recharging
    • Charging Station
      • Two docks per station
      • Uses a linear BOM and IR beacons to guide robots in and then ensure that they dock straight
      • Multiple stations can be chained together and controlled by a single microcontroller (firefly+)
    • ARCHs Charging Board
      • Provides current and voltage regulation
      • Onboard microntroller ATTiny861
      • Communicates to Dragonfly with I2C
    • Homing
      • One infrared detector mounted on the rear of the robot detects IR signal from charging station
      • Two beacons on charging station, two signals. When they overlap to form a 3rd signal, you know you are straight on (diagram would explain better)
  • Autonomous Recharging DEMO
    • Bay Allocation
      • Chooses least full bay <--- explain algorithm
  • ColoNet
    • Wireless Network Library
      • Built off universal wireless library (I think)
    • Remote Colony Monitoring
      • Used in conjunction with a webcam mounted over the environment
      • Java applet accessible through internet
    • Visualize Token Ring
  • Future
    • Mapping/SLAM
    • Remote Task Queuing
      • Assign task through ColoNet
      • Robots work out amongst selves which tasks can be completed given the amount of operational robots
    • Object Manipulation
    • Hardware Improvements
      • RBOM
        • Provide range and more control over the IR beacons

aaai_low-cost-colony.pdf (611 KB) Kevin Woo, 09/20/2008 06:04 PM