[Tiny-tux] [Arc-hive] Weevils, TEND, Swarm, Arc-hive, what's next? Autonomy for Robotic performance art

Corey McGuire coreyfro at coreyfro.com
Tue Nov 27 08:34:27 UTC 2012

Hey Nil!

I am available most of the time.  Marnia and I work over near you at
TechShop Thursdays and Fridays.  We're putting in at least 8 hours a week
on the CNC Mill.  Usually starting at 2PM.

While Techshop is picky about how long people stay, we can always meet and
the Chieftain for fish, chips, and BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEER.

I can meet around that, of course, but giving you a quick tour of Techshop
after lunch seems like fun.


On Mon, Nov 26, 2012 at 2:57 PM, Niladri Bora <niladri.bora at gmail.com>wrote:

> Hey Corey,
>       Sorry for the late reply. I am available over the holidays to work
> on "stuff" (between christmas and new year). Are you available during that
> time? I would also like to take a peek at what you have put together so
> far. Maybe a demo at NB soon?
> On Wed, Nov 21, 2012 at 10:39 AM, Corey McGuire <coreyfro at coreyfro.com>wrote:
>> Who's ready for the next autonomous robotic performance art project?
>> I am working on a platform that allows people to create their own vision
>> of a robot and include it in an ad hoc swarm of robots created by other
>> people.  However, there is no reason this system couldn't be used for
>> swarms of similar robots with a singular vision, aesthetic, or purpose.
>> Another design goal is to make this as off the shelf as possible so we
>> leverage mature, community supported platforms.  Of course, there are
>> critical components that will not be off the shelf, namely, the swarming
>> software components.  I want to keep OUR work focused to that.
>> I have had success with the control solution portion of the complete
>> Rover swarming system.  At this moment, I can script anything to follow
>> designated way points with purely off the shelf equipment.
>> Let's talk about the current state of my work.  The components required
>> for an "Off the shelf" rover are as follows:
>>    - Rover (two channel drive platform with control over throttle and
>>    steering, so a differential drive system like a tank will require a two
>>    motor speed control that handles channel mixing, such as the Sabertooth
>>    used in the Weevils:
>>    http://www.dimensionengineering.com/products/sabertooth2x60)
>>    - Ardupilot Mega 2.5 (same as the 2.0 but a more streamlined design)
>>    or Mav Link compatible autopilot.
>>    - XBee's, preferably 900Mhz (to avoid interfearence with other 2.4Ghz
>>    signals which may be utilized for remote control and administration)
>>    - Three Channel (or more) Hobby Radio transmitter and receiver.
>>     Three channels are for throttle, steering, and a 3 position "mode" (Manual
>>    Drive, Program Waypoints, Follow waypoints)
>>    - Laptop
>>    - Mission Planner
>>    - Optional Sensors (dead-reckoning or "flow sensors" and sonar)
>> The Ardupilot is configured and provides telemetry over the XBee
>> connection to the laptop.  The Laptop runs the mission planner which has a
>> comfortable interface for observing the state of the rover, handling
>> "flight planning", updating software, and tuning the behavior of the rover.
>> Talking to the Ardupiolt (or, indeed, select other auto pilots) is
>> standardized using a common protocol called MAV-Link (
>> http://qgroundcontrol.org/mavlink/start).  It is stateless and fairly
>> robust, but it primarily deals with waypoints and not much else.
>> *Going forward:*
>> None of this is true autonomy.  This is, purely, a control bundle
>> awaiting commands from a brain such as to brains in our heads...or a brains
>> we create.  What obviously comes next is a brain which takes in
>> choreography as inputs for behaviors and give coordinates as outputs.
>> Choreography could simply be an extension to the mission planner, or the
>> Swarm Timeline concept.  What is more important is how we handle
>> coordination and behavior.  There are two modes:
>>    - Mother node
>>    - Locally
>> We could create a mothernode that handles the execution of choreography
>> and runs the behaviors centrally, then issues commands remotely, or we can
>> upload choreography to the constituent rovers which coordinate in realtime
>> and execute behavior locally.
>> There are arguments for either, but I feel we don't have to choose.  If
>> we opt to make this system modular, there isn't any reason that we can't
>> seamlessly move execution from remotely to locally.
>> Attached is the diagram for the proposed "Weevils".  Right now, we have
>> completed the "Drone Phase".  From the drone phase, we could begin
>> developing the Mothernode to begin remote execution of the Rovers.
>> Here is what I propose for the platform going forward:
>>    - Consider an embedded hardware platform we can develop on for
>>    Localized Behaviors (Currently, I am favoring the BeagleBone
>>    http://beagleboard.org/bone)
>>    - Select a tool chain which allows common code to run on the
>>    mothernode or on the embedded system (Currently, I am favoring JAVA since
>>    bytecode should be executable on both platforms without cross compiling and
>>    it should perform much better than python.)
>>    - Getting our hands very dirty with XBee. How do we make this a
>>    robust protocol for bidirectional communication from a number of nodes?
>>     This is the next piece of the puzzle for me and I have begun to work on
>>    this problem this week.
>>    - Begin evaluating the state of the Swarm timeline software,
>>    the extensibility of the Ardupilot Mission Planner, or rolling a new
>>    solution (which might not be too hard, since mission planning can be
>>    handled with embedded hardware
>>    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cy2BE3Dzl3s)
>>    - Begin developing the mothernode solution
>> One important question that might beg some consideration, however, is
>> "Who's got ideas for a project that might utilize these tools?"  It would
>> be great if we had a cohesive project that would allow us to make proposals
>> for burningman, robodock, awesome foundation, kickstarter, etc.
>>  The vision of a multicultural robot swarm is great, but it would be easier
>> to promote a cohesive project, first.
>> _______________________________________________
>> Arc-hive mailing list
>> Arc-hive at fluxfoundation.org
>> http://fluxfoundation.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/arc-hive
> --
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