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Team of Robots Learns to Work Together, Without Colliding

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Four robots approach each other but do not collide.

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have created algorithms that allow robots to approach each other without colliding, in order to accomplish a task.

Credit: Georgia Tech News Center

New algorithms created by Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) researchers enable robots to move within inches of each other, without colliding, to complete their task.

The team, led by roboticist Magnus Egerstedt, director of Georgia Tech's Institute of Robotics and Intelligent Machines, is the first to create such minimally invasive safety algorithms.

A set of safe states and barrier certificates ensure each bot stays in its own safe set throughout the entire maneuver, the researchers note.

In a demonstration involving four robots, the machines approach from four different areas, meet in the middle, circle counterclockwise within inches of each other, then fan out into opposite directions. In another demonstration, eight robots perform the same task, this time circling clockwise before dispersing. Instead of keeping their distance and taking the long way around their neighbors, the robots move very independently wherever they wish.

"Robots are very conservative--they want to make sure they're safe," Egerstedt says. "You couldn't pack the interstate with self-driving cars with today's technology."

He says a minimally invasive safety controller similar to the algorithms could be used for the next generation of air traffic control.

From Georgia Tech News Center
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