In this post I will give an introduction about cooperative robotics. I will explain how some robots work in group to accomplish tasks and where they can be used. A great number of simple robots can execute complex tasks if they work together.
To a robot cooperate with another, it is necessary they see each other. Some robots can have omnidirectional cameras, which appoint to all sides.
Other robots locate each other with ultrasound pulses, like the millibot. This type of robot emits radio waves and ultrasound to measure the distance with other millibots. The distance is measured by the time diference between the reception of the radio signal and the ultrasound.
The kilobots locate each other with infrared transmitters and receivers.
There are three types of swarm behavior to robots: foraging, formation control and synchronization. The foraging is inspired in nature, robots spread and explore an area to find objects. This video shows robots foraging an area to collect resources to bring to the base.
In the formation control, robots act in unison, can move at the environment using other robots as reference and have a sense of position in the group. For example, millibots move in an area using other three as reference. Here we have a group of robots moving in group.
This video shows the kilobots transporting an object like a group of ants.
In the synchronization, all robots must have the same internal clock to execute a task and then change to another. The kilobots can self organize to form figures.
Another robots use the follow the leader rule, the leader has information about the map, decide the direction and others follow it. Some robots self assembly to form a bigger robot to pass through obstacles which couldn`t pass individually.
Build a swarm of small and simple robots can be much cheaper than build a bigger and more complex one. The cooperative robotics can be used in maritime vigilance, search and rescue of people and object in hostile terrain, imagine a swarm of robotic boats and submarines looking for an airplane which fell in the ocean.
Cooperative robotics also can be used in police and military operations to rescue missions and reconnaissance mission without exposing to risk. If some robots are destroyed, the mission won`t be compromised.