I am an assistant professor with a joint appoitment in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
and Mechanical Engineering departments at Northwestern University.
My research interest is to advance the control and design of multi-robot systems,
enabling their use instead of traditional single robots and to solve problems for which traditional robots are not suitable. Using these multi-robot
systems can offer more parallelism, adaptability, and fault tolerance when compared to a traditional single robot. I am also interested in investigating
how new technologies will allow for more capable multi-robot systems, and how these technologies impact the design of multi-robot algorithms, especially as
these systems begin to number in the hundreds, thousands, or even millions of robots.
Interested in joining my research group? I am looking for students interested in building and controlling robot swarms, please email me for more information.
- My low cost education robot, AERobot, is now availible for purchase through seeed studio here.
- I am excited to be joining Northwestern University as an assistant professor, with a joint appointment in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
and Mechanical Engineering departments!
- My work on thousand robot self assembly is runner-up for Science's "breakthrough of the year", see article here or
- My paper on 1024 robot self-assembly was published in Science! An open access link to the article
can be found by clicking the PDF link on this webpage.
- Check out our winning design for the "AFRON low cost educational robot contest", AERobot.
- It is now easier to create programs for the Kilobot, thanks to an online editor and compilation tool available at Kilobotics.com.
Robotic Shape Self-assembly:
Programmable self-assembly in a thousand robot swarm.
Self-assembly enables nature to build complex forms, from multicellular organisms to complex animal structures such as flocks of birds,
through the interaction of vast numbers of limited and unreliable individuals. Creating this ability in engineered systems poses challenges
in the design of both algorithms and physical systems that can operate at such scales. This work demonstrates programmable
self-assembly of complex two-dimensional shapes with a thousand-robot swarm. This was enabled by creating autonomous robots designed to
operate in large groups and to cooperate through local interactions and by developing a collective algorithm for shape formation that is
highly robust to the variability and error characteristic of large-scale decentralized systems. This work advances the aim of creating
artificial swarms with the capabilities of natural ones.
A low-cost robot designed to introduce students of all ages to the fundamentals of programming and control of robots
AERobot (Affordable Education Robot) is a low-cost robot designed to introduce students of all ages to the fundamentals
of programming and control of robots, with the hope of inspiring them to further pursue studies in Science, Technology,
Engineering and Math (STEM). We hope that AERobotís low cost ($10.70 including assembly) will enable more students,
especially those who could not normally afford to do so, to gain hands-on experience in robotics. In addition to robot
design, we have created a software suite for the robot by modifying minibloqs, a graphical programming language, and
created a 15 lesson curriculum for a student with no starting experience to learn the basics of programming flow and logic,
the use of sensors and actuators, and to create robot behaviors.
A low cost robot system designed for demonstrating collective behaviors in a group of 1024 robots.
In current robotics research there is a vast body of work on algorithms and control methods for groups of decentralized cooperating robots,
called a swarm or collective. These algorithms are generally meant to control collectives of hundreds or even thousands of robots; however,
for reasons of cost, time, or complexity, they are generally validated in simulation only, or on a group of a few tens of robots. To address
this issue, we created Kilobot, a low-cost robot designed to make testing collective algorithms on hundreds or thousands of robots accessible
to robotics researchers. To enable the possibility of large Kilobot collectives where the number of robots is an order of magnitude larger
than the largest that exist today, each robot is made with $14 worth of parts and takes 5 minutes to assemble. Furthermore, the robot design allows
a single user to easily oversee the operation of a large Kilobot collective, such as programming, powering on, and charging all robots, which
would be difficult or impossible to do with many existing robotic systems.
The below videos show Kilobots being used for collective transport using a variety of control algorithms. For more details see the AAMAS2013 paper
and the IROS2013 paper.
The following videos explain the Kilobot system and present some early demonstrations.
Self-Assembly and Self-Healing For Robotic Collectives Defended 11/2009
For my PhD thesis, I developed a control algorithm for a multi-robot system which guarantees that it can self-assemble and
self-heal any connected shape desired. This control algorithm, called S-DASH, allows a group of decentralized robots to form the
desired shape at a size proportional to the current number of robots without direct knowledge of that number. If the group shape
is damaged by moving, adding, or removing some robots, S-DASH will cause the robot group to reform the desired shape at a size
proportional to the new number of robots.
The following video shows an example of my thesis work on self-assembling and self-healing shapes. My thesis can be found here.
SuperBot: Modular, Multifunctional and Reconfigurable Robots
Superbot is a new generation of modular self-reconfigurable robots (MSR)
developed for a NASA grant to advance MSRs to operate outside of the laboratory environment, bringing the system closer to the idea
of a space-qualified MSR. I helped to develop and implement many behaviors on Superbot, some of which met milestones for the NASA grant.
These behaviors allowed Superbot to climb over 100 meters on steep sand dunes, traverse long
distances on battery power, and navigate rough rocky terrain, all of which had never been done with a MSR before. Below are two example videos showing
Superbot in rolling track and sidewinder configurations.
LANdroids: Distributed Radio Relay Nodes A project to create small, inexpensive, smart robotic radio relay nodes that self-configure and form a radio relay network in an urban setting.
Self-Assembly and Self-Healing To deepen our understating of self-healing and construct a physical system that can demonstrate morphallaxis.