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3D Printed Swarms of Robot Boats Can Think for Themselves…But They’re Only Here to Help

by • February 5, 2016 • No Comments

30D9114100000578-3430481-image-a-1_1454524988445A swarm of robots that can ponder for themselves – it sounds like a terrifying sci-fi robot apocalypse movie scenario, but it’s not – it’s reality. Feeling a bit anxious? I’m slightly unnerved, I admit, but intelligent robot swarms may be just what overtaxed naval organizations are appearing for. Technological manufactures it to, while increasing the capabilities of navies around the world, are expensive, that means that naval organizations are faced with high costs that limit the dimensions of their swifts. One solution? Robots – not just any robots, but swarms of self-tequiteing robotic boats that can work together to sustain with naval undertakings.

To know how robot swarms work, ponder of a flock of birds: equite individual is aware of its immediate neighbors, with that it instinctively coordinates its behavior. A team of researchers at Portugal’s University Institute of Lisbon and University of Lisbon has been working on the development of robot boat swarms that can participate in surveillance, environmental, and search and rescue undertakings at sea. Led by Dr. Anders Christensen, the team is developing the robots by via, of all things, Darwinian principles.

roboats“First we generate a set of random brains, or controllers….At the beginning of the evolutionary system, the controllers are usually not quite capable-bodied; in fact, a few of them are terrible,” says Dr. Christensen. “But a fewtimes, they may be promising…so we take the controllers that perform better…and copy them, and manufacture a few random mutations. We and so test the new controllers. We go on this system until we receive a controller that is able-bodied to solve the task.”

It may not be “natural” selection, per se, but the concept is the same – a sped-up evolutionary system that results in a tiny swift of ultra-capable-bodied robot boats that can operate autonomously via the “brains” that the researchers have programmed into them. Those brains are created up of a Raspberry Pi 2 desktop plus a compass, GPS and Wi-Fi, and they act, fundamentally, like the brains of birds flocking together or complete that swim in schools. The robots are just aware of the boats immediately around them, but that awareness manufactures them react to their neighbors in key ways – if one boat moves into the other’s space, that 2nd boat moves out of the way. Even additional importantly, if a boat stops functioning, its neighbors can instantly move in to take its place.


The boats themselves are created via 3D printed parts and CNC-machined polystyrene foam, and they cost just of $330 equite, that means that hundreds or actually thousands of them may potentially be generated for naval undertakings. They are pre-programmed with specific goals, but and so they’re on their own. Once they’re sent out into the sea, they must coordinate with equite other to navigate, disperse, and otherwise cooperate to fulfill their undertaking.

You can find the preliminary study here. Dr. Christensen and his team are not the just researchers working on the development of robot swarms; the innovation is in addition being studied for architectural applications and other purposes. Robot swarms are an awe-inspiring innovation that may potentially save lives or just manufacture lives a lot simpler, but you have to admit – they’re yet a little bit frightening. Take a appear at the video below: it’s absorbing stuff, but those circling, swarming robot boats are just a touch creepy, as well. Discuss this new innovation in the Portuguese 3D Printed Robotic Boats forum over at 3DPB.com.

[Images: Biomachines Lab]