Monday, August 6, 2018

2018-08-06: Autonomy Incubator Takes on a Swarm of GoPiGo Rovers

Fifteen GoPiGo rovers lined up in the flight room.

The drones that you see in these five single file lines are GoPiGo rovers, or as we like to call them in the Ai, Piglets!  Each Piglet comes in a do-it-yourself kit, and Autonomy Incubator team members have been building them throughout the past week.  In order to run, each Piglet requires a Raspberry Pi, which is a micro computer.  By building them in mass, we have been able to research a few different things.

Skylar Jordan is using them to do tests for the human crowd mapping algorithms when applied to the real world.  Using a simulation on his computer, he is going to adapt it to operate the GoPiGo drones on the field, using Vicon systems for feedback.  "We will take a number of drones and a real person, or multiple real people even, and have them walk among the drones to see if the drones and the humans interact in the same way that humans would interact with other humans."

Meghan Chandarana is researching swarm technology. The Autonomy Incubator team is highly interested in missions, such as search and rescue, and with these GoPiGo rovers, "what will eventually happen is the vehicles will move through the environment and eventually come to a person that you want to help," Meghan explained.  What they've done is develop techniques for the vehicles' decision-making capabilities and be able to determine how the swarm would break up in order to find and help the person.  "The piglets are like a testing platform for us to be able to test those behaviors to see how well they work on real platforms and what a small-scale mission of that type would look like."

Each individual GoPiGo rover comes in a DIY kit.

The Piglets only drive, providing us with a safer and less expensive alternative to flying drones. They're a good testbed for both Meghan and Skylar's research.  Skylar explained to me how he views it all as sort of "a transition between computer simulation and flight tests to prove that your algorithms actually work."

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