We've seen plenty of quadcopters and plenty of follow-the-leader 'bots, but this might be our first brush with follow-the-leader 'bots that work together to build a mobile landing pad for a quadcopter while it's in flight. But that's not even the coolest part about this robotic system from the Georgia Robotics and Intelligent Systems Lab.
The coolest part is that the robots on the ground aren't actually communicating with each other. Rather, they are taking broad orders remotely but independently. For instance, the follower robots are commanded to arrange themselves in a box formation around the leader bot, but the followers don't communicate with each other to make this happen. Rather, by knowing only the relative locations of their counterparts and the objective they are supposed to be achieving, they independently decide what action or role to take in order to achieve that objective.
In other words, they are problem solving as a team by "thinking" individually about the best way each 'bot can contribute to the larger objective. And, as you can see in the video, they get it right--when commanded to arrange themselves into a tight square formation so the quadcopter can set down, they quickly move in to enable a successful landing. It's like watching the future of robotic supply chain systems, military support technologies, and possibly even human transit (perhaps someday) unfolding on someone's office floor.
One of the challenges in team dynamics is that members don't communicate with one another. As a result, there can be a breakdown.
Will these robots ever need to know what the other robots are doing or will we assume that the master controller will make all decisions.
Impressive in a way, less than promised in other ways. The article gives the impression that these robots make the decision on how to assemble to form the landing pad. But in reality there are a lot if, and, or statements in their programming, that dictate how to behave in each situation. They may only receive data as to the other robot's location, but they are pre-programmed to act.
@BrokenRecord...the article didn't state what you are saying, where did you get your info
@drchuck1, Im a programmer and I agree with BrokenRecord.