Swarms of robotic bugs could sometime help us explore other planetary realms.
A researcher at California State College, Northridge mechanical engineering professor Nhut Ho, has been awarded a $538,000 grant from the Pentagon to collaborate on the “Human Swarming Teaming Platform for Research in Human Automation Trust and Reliance” challenge.
“For this particular project, we are exploring how to build a swarm of robots that can be put into different unknown environments and learn to navigate these environments to complete tasks,” Ho mentioned in a statement. “To be able to accomplish this, the autonomous robots can be designed to imitate the conduct seen in bugs that swarm, resembling ants.
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The autonomous insect-bots could explore other planets — maybe even Mars — or help in harmful search-and-rescue operations on Earth after a pure catastrophe.
“We were inspired by the behaviors that we see in swarms of ants and bees that self-organize, create clever solutions for different tasks, work in groups of different sizes and have the ability to complete the tasks even when members fail,” Ho defined. “The next thing is figuring out how humans can use the insights gained to design complex robotic systems for really challenging missions.”
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As half of the challenge, the robots can be utilized in analysis initiatives that NASA’s Autonomy Analysis Heart for STEAHM is collaborating on with a crew from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which gained first place in DARPA’s subterranean problem.
“For missions such as exploring the Martian surface and voids, a swarm of simple, small robots can complete complex tasks much more efficiently and effectively than a single large rover,” Ho defined.
“Then, there’s the query of how a lot are you able to do with a rover versus you probably have a swarm of machines. Think about how a lot exploration you are able to do and the way a lot information you possibly can gather that you simply wouldn’t in any other case have the ability to by sending only one single rover up there,” he added.