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[Robustness of Foraging E-puck Swarms]

Robots Multi-agent systems Project: Designing Robot Swarms
Date: Aug 2018

Publication: Pitonakova, L., Winfield, A. F. T. & Crowder, R. (in press). Recruitment near worksites facilitates the robustness of foraging e-puck swarms to global positioning noise. Proceedings of the 2018 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2018), IEEE.

We compare the ability of two different robot controllers for collective foraging to cope with noise in robot global positioning data and show how recruitment, in the form of broadcast messages near worksites, can make swarms more robust. Swarms of five e-puck robots are used in a semi-virtual environment, facilitated by the VICON positioning system. This setup allows us to control the amount of noise in the robot positioning data, as well as to generate pseudo-random environments. The effect of inherent noise in the robot infra-red sensors, used for obstacle avoidance, is also noted and the importance of modeling such noise in agent-based simulations is highlighted.

Experimental setup with e-puck robots and the VICON system The experimental setup consisting of the e-puck arena, a Server and a VICON system. Worksites are drawn on the arena floor for visualisation purposes only. The robots communicated with the Server in order to obtain positional, worksite and recruitment data. The Server maintained a virtual representation of the world, keeping track of base, worksite and robot locations and the amount of resource units in each worksite.

Results summary

Basic foraging loop

Congestion formation

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The main purpose of pyCreeper is to wrap tens of lines of python code, required to produce graphs that look good for a publication, into functions. It takes away your need to understand various quirks of matplotlib and gives you back ready-to-use and well-documented code.

Designing Robot Swarms

This project looks at the challenges involved in modeling, understanding and designing of multi-robot systems.

Information Flow Regulation in Preferentially Foraging Swarms

Swarms are tasked with foraging from multiple sources in dynamic environments where source locations change periodically. Preferential foraging leads to a better swarm performance, provided that information flow among robots, that results from recruitment, is regulated

Citations count fails to measure the impact of research

Academic career progress is often judged by so-called "h-index", that measures how much your research is being cited. I recently had a detailed look at what exactly the citations, specifically those reported by Google Scholar, amount to. Only a relatively small fraction of the reported citations corresponded to research being applied or reproduced in a meaningful way.