SpinBot: An Autonomous, Externally Actuated Robot for Swarm Applications

  • Andrew SaLoutosEmail author
  • Michael Rubenstein
Conference paper
Part of the Springer Proceedings in Advanced Robotics book series (SPAR, volume 9)


Complexity, cost, and power requirements of individual robots are large factors in limiting the size of robotic swarms. In this paper, we present a prototype robot, the SpinBot, that is externally actuated via an orbital table and has only one infrared sensor pair for communication and sensing. The SpinBot can move autonomously in 2D by activating and de-activating its only onboard actuator, an electro-permanent magnet, and can communicate and sense the angles between its neighbors. The angle sensing is accomplished by adding a bearing to the robot chassis and offsetting the center of mass from the point of attachment between the SpinBot and the table surface, so that the upper part of SpinBot rotates about itself at the same frequency as the orbital table. We describe the design of the SpinBot in detail, and present results from our implementation of a centering algorithm for a group of four SpinBots which utilizes the SpinBot’s unique sensing and locomotion abilities.


Swarm robotics External actuation Sensing 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Northwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA

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