SWARM Robotics: A Different Approach to Service Robotics
Service robotics, as it has been intended so far, views the accomplishment of a service mission mainly as the result of the action of a single robot. Swarm robotics tackles the very same problem from a different stance,
ie as the result of a team effort of simple units. The project described here shows this particular approach. It defines first one simple unit (s-bot) capable of independently moving about on the ground and of dynamically establishing rigid or semi-rigid connections with other fellow units, and then it shows how a large group of them can, as a whole entity (swarm-bot), carry out a given task. Thanks to the ductility in assembling and forming its connections, a swarm-bot can readily cope with occasional failures of some components and promptly reshape the remaining swarm so as to replace the role of the failing units. Given such a plasticity, their possible applications is rather large ranging from harsh environment exploration to goods harvesting or goods transportation. At the moment, the project is at the stage of having defined a first simulating environment to be used both for the on-going hardware design and for the software control. The present paper describes this particular aspect of the project.