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Massive Uniform Manipulation: Control Large Populations of Simple Robots with a Common Input Signal

rearranges n robots controlled to move in unison {up, down, left, right} using 1 obstacle

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Updated 31 Jul 2013

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Roboticists, biologists, and chemists are now producing large populations of simple robots, but controlling large populations of robots with limited capabilities is difficult, due to communication and onboard-computation constraints.

We investigate control of mobile robots that move in a 2D workspace, focusing on a model that uses broadcast control inputs specified in the global reference frame. (see video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5p_XIad5-Cw )



In an obstacle-free workspace this system model is uncontrollable because it has only two controllable degrees of freedom---all robots receive the same inputs and move uniformly. We prove that adding a single obstacle can make the system controllable, for any number of robots. We provide a position control algorithm.

Authors: Aaron Becker and Golnaz Habibi, Rice University 2013

Code used for Fig. 3 in "Massive Uniform Manipulation: Controlling Large Populations of Simple Robots with a Common Input Signal" by Aaron Becker, Golnaz Habibi, Justin Werfel, Michael Rubenstein, and James McLurkin, IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), Nov 3-7 2013.

Paper Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=px5RdSvGD2Q

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MATLAB Release Compatibility
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