Photo credit: Self-organizing Systems Research Group
Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) researchers teamed up with the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering to develop aquatic robots capable of synchronizing their movements like real-life school of fish, without any external control. This is the first time that complex 3D collective behaviors with implicit coordination in underwater robots has been observed. Read more for a video and additional information.
Called Blueswarm, these were created in the lab of Radhika Nagpal, the Fred Kavli Professor of Computer Science at SEAS and Associate Faculty Member at the Wyss Institute. The robots come equipped with a vision-based coordination system based on blue LED lights and two cameras. The integrated fish-lens cameras detect the LEDs of neighboring robots and then use a custom algorithm to determine their distance, direction and heading.
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Robots are often deployed in areas that are inaccessible or dangerous to humans, areas where human intervention might not even be possible. In these situations, it really benefits you to have a highly autonomous robot swarm that is self-sufficient. By using implicit rules and 3D visual perception, we were able to create a system that has a high degree of autonomy and flexibility underwater where things like GPS and WiFi are not accessible,” said Florian Berlinger, a PhD Candidate at SEAS and Wyss and first author of the paper.