Why Swarm Robotics?
Swarm robotics is particularly appealing to researchers,
as it turns a group of robots into a collective entity that
obeys simple instructions while performing multiple tasks in
parallel. Its very nature allows for an inherent redundancy,
as a single or several individual robots can fail, but the
group can still complete the task. Multiple robots can also
search an area more quickly and with higher resolution
than just one.
In the future, this capability could aid in disaster relief
and personal defense, to construction in inhospitable
locations. Basically, any situation where robots would be
more effective than humans, or there’s a need to fluidly
change shape. Unfortunately, there has been a
fundamental bottleneck when it comes to resources and
What is the Robotarium?
The Robotarium is the brainchild of roboticist Magnus
Egerstedt, a professor at Georgia Tech’s School of Electrical
and Computer Science, who realized that the advancements
in swarm robotics were being stunted by the lack of
accessibility. Swarm robotics testbeds are rare and almost
always private, so Egerstedt set about creating a communal
platform with funding by the National Science Foundation
and the Office of Naval Research.
Housed in the Van Leer Building in Atlanta’s Georgia Tech campus, the
Robotarium is an attempt to democratize the study of robotics —
specifically swarm robotics. It offers a platform where academics and
amateurs, students and hobbyists, or anyone that wants to move beyond
simulations in order to test theories using physical robots can do so at
no cost. It’s able to offer this thanks to generous grants, dozens of small
remotely controlled robots, and a series of eight high-speed Vicon
Vantage cameras capable of tracking several fast-moving objects at
once with precision.
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