Distributed Autonomous Robotic Systems

Volume 83 of the series Springer Tracts in Advanced Robotics pp 597-609

A Low-Cost Multi-robot System for Research, Teaching, and Outreach

  • James McLurkinAffiliated withRice University Email author 
  • , Andrew J. LynchAffiliated withRice University
  • , Scott RixnerAffiliated withRice University
  • , Thomas W. BarrAffiliated withRice University
  • , Alvin ChouAffiliated withRice University
  • , Kathleen FosterAffiliated withRice University
  • , Siegfried BilsteinAffiliated withRice University

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We describe a new low-cost robot design that enables large-scale multirobot research, innovative new curriculum, and multi-robotics outreach to younger students. There are four main parts to the system: the r-one robot, a Python development environment, a camera tracking system for ground-truth localization, and server software to connect all the pieces together. This paper presents our preliminary work on the robot design and our experience using it to teach an introductory engineering class. The hardware can support classes in computer science, electrical engineering, and mechanical engineering. The low-cost and small size will enable more research groups to perform multi-robot experiments on physical hardware. The Python development environment greatly simplifies programming and will make robotics more accessible to a larger group of educators, students, and researchers.