Multi-Robot Communications Curriculum posted starting in September


Autonomous Multi Robot Training & Competition - In the future, all systems will be networked and will communicate. It is imperative for future global competitiveness that students begin to learn multi agent control and communications. There are autonomous multi-robot competitions for school age children in China, Europe, and Australia, but none in the US. There are competitions that have multiple robots on the field at the same time, but only the college level International RoboCup competition promotes autonomous multi-robot communication and collaboration.


Carnegie Mellon Dragons by Veloso 


Arduino and other robots Phase 1 of this project will test and harden a kit of parts using commonly of the shelf (COTS) technology capable of multi-robot communications for under $250 per robot kit.  We will integrate communications protocols into ROBOTC enabling multi-robot communications.  We will develop a set of scaffolded training materials (challenges, lessons, and web support) enabling teachers and coaches to teach American students how autonomous multi-agent communications works; examples include: robot search and rescue, robot soccer, robot dancing, and automated work cells. We will integrate this technology into the existing VEX robotics competition within two years. The work will be done collaboratively by: CMU’s Multi-Robot Lab (MRL), the Robotics Academy (RA), faculty from the School of Computer Science (SCS), and Dick Swan, the developer of ROBOTC.


Phase 1 uses commercially available hardware that is popular in the hobbyist community - an Arduino MEGA platform ($50), a 1mW XBee Radio ($20), RFID technology, and sensors - to develop a basic robot kit capable of teaching multi-robot communications and electronics and embedded systems.


Current status


The Arduino MEGA is an ideal platform as it has over 50 digital inputs and 15 analog inputs which allow the student to build a complex robot. The ROBOTC IDE has already been ported to the Arduino system and we are currently in the process of updating ROBOTC libraries to make the user interface “student” friendly. The Arduino MEGA uses the Xbee radio to send data to other controllers in the area using standard serial messages over the Xbee radio. The XBee radio system is ideal because of its low power consumption (50mA) and long distances (300ft/100m) allowing it to work in classrooms and competitions. The XBee radio works for multi-robot communication because it has built-in configurations for basic point-to-point communications, but also is natively capable of running mesh networks of point-to-multipoint. This allows a single controller to send and receive messages, theoretically, with up to 65,000 different units. The XBee can interface with a personal computer via a USB port, so in theory you could also have a single PC control multiple robots and also have real time feedback returning to the PC. The RFID technology can be used to allow a robot to communicate its location to other robots in the area.



Why Robots Communicate

Click on the image below to view a presentation on "Why Robots Communicate".

Why Robots communicate presentation  
Take a look at the videos below to see multiple robots communicating while playing soccer: