Journal article

A Social Approach for Target Localization: Simulation and Implementation in the marXbot Robot

Foraging is a common benchmark problem in collective robotics in which a robot (the forager) explores a given environment while collecting items for further deposition at specific locations. A typical real-world application of foraging is garbage collection where robots collect garbage for further disposal in pre-defined locations. This work proposes a method to cooperatively perform the task of finding such locations: instead of using local or global localization strategies relying on pre-installed infrastructure, the proposed approach takes advantage of the knowledge gathered by a population about the localization of the targets. In our approach, robots communicate in an intrinsic way the estimation about how near they are from a target; these estimations are used by neighbour robots for estimating their proximity, and for guiding the navigation of the whole population when looking for these specific areas. We performed several tests in a simulator, and we validated our approach on a population of real robots. For the validation tests we used a mobile robot called marXbot. In both cases (i.e., simulation and implementation on real robots), we found that the proposed approach efficiently guides the robots towards the pre-specified targets while allowing the modulation of their speed.

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