Collective Inspection of Regular Structures using a Swarm of Miniature Robots
We present a series of experiments concerned with the inspection of regular, engineered structures carried out using swarms of five to twenty autonomous, miniature robots, solely endowed with on-board, local sensors. Individual robot controllers are behavior-based and the swarm coordination relies on a fully distributed control algorithm. The resulting collective behavior emerges from a combination of simple robot-to-robot interactions and the underlying environmental template. To estimate intrinsic advantages and limitations of the proposed control solution, we capture its characteristics at higher abstraction levels using nonspatial, microscopic and macroscopic probabilistic models. Although both types of models achieve only qualitatively correct predictions, they help us to shed light on the influence of the environmental template and control design choices on the considered non-spatial swarm metrics (inspection time and redundancy). Modeling results suggest that additional geometric details of the environmental structure should be taken into account for improving prediction accuracy and that the proposed control solution can be further optimized without changing its underlying architecture.
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