` Intelligent and Mobile Robotics

Control and Localization for Swarms of low-cost helicopters (COLOS)

Project partners:

Intelligent and Mobile Robotics group (IMR)GRASP laboratory
CTU in PragueUniversity of Pennsylvania
Ing. Libor Přeučil, CSc.Prof. Vijay Kumar

People involved: Martin Saska, Justin Thomas, Matthew Turpin, Jan Chudoba, Tom Krajnik, Jan Faigl, Giuseppe Loianno, Tomas Baca, Zdenek Kasl, Vojtech Vonasek

Project topic:

The aim of the proposed project is to develop a control framework that enables to settle boundness of cooperative localization of particles in robotic swarms. The motivation of such an effort is to improve standard cooperative navigation and localization approaches based on swapping obtained information between robots via communication. Utilization of these methods is limited in scenarios, where a large robotic teams needs to be utilized. Extensive deployment of robots in a small area decreases communication bandwidth or even disenable transmission of messages between the robots at all. Here, we can find an inspiration in nature: individuals in big school of fish, clusters of insect or flocks of birds cannot directly communicate with neighbors due to surrounding noise and their relative localization is realized through observation of neighbors. Our idea is to transfer similar concepts to localization in robotics, mainly in applications of autonomous low-cost helicopters (small quad-rotor helicopters equipped with simple panoramatic cameras). The challenging problem in such a task is, how to keep localization precision above a given threshold which is a key property. This requirement leads to necessity of particles movement stability analysis. Such a theoretical framework should provide control boundness that results from limits of movement given by requirements of localization (e.g. each particle should perceive a minimal amount of neighbors), environment (e.g. helicopters should keep suficient distance from obstacles and neighbors) and application (the complete swarm should follow a mission plan).

The proposed project COLOS aims to integrate principles and theoretical background of helicopters control and swarm behavior with methodology and theory describing existing approaches for cooperative localization of heterogenous teams of mobile robots and a single helicopter. The Czech (IMR - Intelligent Mobile Robotics group at the Gerstner Laboratory, CTU in Prague) partner is continuously developing a framework that is focused on main principles how to increase the localization precision leading to reliable navigational techniques. Within the project, their approach and developed theory will be used as a core of arising system for localization of swarms. The US partner (Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, University of Pennsylvania) is one of leading bodies in area of control of cooperating quad-rotor helicopters. Within the project, their experience with control of cooperating UAVs and knowledge of stability analysis will be utilized to develop a robust system applicable in scenarios of swarm robotics that cannot be realized with existing methods.


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See IMR demos page for more records of experiments of the SWARM stream and Intelligent and Mobile Robotics Group in general.

Journal publications:

  • Saska, M. - Vonásek, V. - Krajník, T. - Přeučil, L. Coordination and navigation of heterogeneous MAV–UGV formations localized by a ‘hawk-eye’-like approach under a model predictive control scheme. International Journal of Robotics Research. OnlineFirst 2014; DOI: 10.1177/0123456789123456.
  • Krajník, T - Nitsche, M - Faigl, J. - Vaněk, P. - Saska, M. - Duckett, T. - Přeučil, L. - Mejail, M.: A practical multirobot localization system. Journal of Intelligent & Robotic Systems, OnlineFirst, 2014.
  • Saska, M. - Krajník, T. - Vonásek, V. - Kasl, Z. - Spurný, V. - Přeučil, L.: Fault-tolerant formation driving mechanism designed for heterogeneous MAVs-UGVs groups, Journal of Intelligent & Robotic Systems, 73 (1-4), 603-622, 2014.
  • Saska, M. - Mejía, J. S. - Stipanović, D. M. - Vonásek, V. - Schilling, K. - Přeučil, L.: Control and navigation in manoeuvres of formations of unmanned mobile vehicles, European Journal of Control, 19(2), 157-171, 2013.
  • Saska, M. - Vonásek, V. - Přeučil, L.: Trajectory Planning and Control for Airport Snow Sweeping by Autonomous Formations of Ploughs, Journal of Intelligent & Robotic Systems, 72(2), 239-261, April, 2013. [pdf]