Multi-Robot Pursuit System: We'll Be Back!

The DoD is working on a Multi-Robot Pursuit System because, well, even the best of robots needs help now and then.


(Terminators)

The idea is that each team would consist of 3-5 robots weighing about 100 kg or less. In phase III, robots should be able to intelligently and autonomously searcher do SAR, fire fighting and reconnaissance.

There are many research efforts within robotics in path planning, exploration, and mapping of indoor and outdoor environments. Operator control units are available that allow semi-autonomous map-based control of a team of robots. While the test environments are usually benign, they are slowly becoming longer and more complex. There has also been significant research in the game theory community involving pursuit/evasion scenarios.

This topic seeks to merge these research areas and develop a software/hardware suit that would enable a multi-robot team, together with a human operator, to search for and detect a non-cooperative human subject. The main research task will involve determining the movements of the robot team through the environment to maximize the opportunity to find the subject, while minimizing the chances of missing the subject.

Here's an early reference to the idea of robots working together to perform a common task, from Isaac Asimov's 1944 short story Catch That Rabbit. The story revolves around Dave (DV-5), a mining robot with six subsidiary robots to boss around:

[Powell] watched the posturings of the robots on the visiplate. They were bronzy gleams of smooth motion against the shadowy crags of the airless asteroid. There was a marching formation now, and in their own dim body light, the rough-hewn walls of the mine tunnel swam past noiselessly, checkered with misty erratic blobs of shadow. They marched in unison, seven of them, with Dave at the head.
(Read more about multiple robot team)

From SBIR: Multi-Robot Pursuit System via Wired; thanks to Moira for pointing this one out.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 10/27/2008)

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