Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Paper Review season is open!

While I do not solve the commercial problems with iRobot I will start the reviews of my project bibliography, I'm using Mendeley to organize the papers into categories and to classify notes about each one.
Until now my list is:

1. Beni G. From swarm intelligence to swarm robotics Sahin E, Spears WM, eds. Ant Colony Optimization and Swarm Intelligence Proceedings. 2005;3342:1-9. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?db=pubmed&cmd=Retrieve&dopt=AbstractPlus&list_uids=000228181500001.

2. Campo A, Nouyan S, Birattari M, Groß R, Dorigo M. Enhancing cooperative transport using negotiation of goal direction. Available at: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/summary?doi=

3. Cao YU, Fukunaga AS, Kahng AB. Cooperative Mobile Robotics: Antecedents and Directions. 1997;4:226-234. Available at: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/summary?doi=

4. Ducatelle F, Di Caro A. G, Gambardella M. L. Cooperative Self-Organization in a Heterogeneous Swarm Robotic System. Available at: http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1830501.

5. Ferrante E. A Control Architecture for a Heterogeneous Swarm of Robots: The Design of a Modular Behavior-based Architecture. 2009;(TR/IRIDIA/2009-010):77. Available at: http://iridia.ulb.ac.be/IridiaTrSeries/IridiaTr2009-010r001.pdf.

6. Garnier S, Gautrais J, Asadpour M, Jost C, Theraulaz G. Self-Organized Aggregation Triggers Collective Decision Making in a Group of Cockroach-Like Robots. Adaptive Behavior. 2009;17(2):109-133. Available at: http://adb.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/17/2/109.

7. Holland O, Melhuish C. Stigmergy, Self-Organization, and Sorting in Collective Robotics. 2006. Available at: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1162/106454699568737.

8. Kube CR. Collective Robotics: From Social Insects to Robots. Adaptive Behavior. 1993;2(2):189-218. Available at: http://adb.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/2/2/189.

9. Kunz H, Hemelrijk CK, Intelligence A. Artificial Fish Schools: Collective Effects of School Size, Body Size, and Body Form. Available at: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/summary?doi=

10. Magnenat S, Rétornaz P, Noris B, Mondada F. Scripting the swarm: event-based control of microcontroller-based robots. In: SIMPAR 2008 Workshop Proceedings.; 2008. Available at: http://monicareggiani.net/simpar2008/StandardPlatform/scpr2008-03-Magnenat.pdf.

11. Magnenat S, Member S, Bonani M, Longchamp V, Mondada F. 1 ASEBA: A Modular Architecture for Event-Based Control of Complex Robots. Available at: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/summary?doi=

12. Mondada F, Bonani M, Magnenat S, Guignard A, Floreano D. Physical connections and cooperation in swarm robotics. Intelligent Autonomous Systems. 2004:53. Available at: http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=IKscPz-GaxAC&oi=fnd&pg=PA53&dq=Physical+connections+and+cooperation+in+swarm+robotics&ots=Asv3PFtmVg&sig=3sN6oMwiOjlowCvzvcmgZLSwkWE.

13. Nouyan S, Groß R, Dorigo M, et al. Group Transport along a Robot Chain in a Self-Organised Robot Colony. 2005:433-442. Available at: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/summary?doi=

14. Reynolds CW. Flocks, Herds, and Schools: A Distributed Behavioral Model. 1987:25-34. Available at: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/summary?doi=

15. Sahin E, Spears WM, Şahin E. Swarm Robotics. (Şahin E, Spears WM, eds.). Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer Berlin Heidelberg; 2005:10-20-20. Available at: http://www.springerlink.com/content/cc4k8mdhbhk0uw3y/.

16. Sharkey AJC. Swarm robotics and minimalism. Connection Science. 2007;19(3):245-260. Available at: http://www.informaworld.com/10.1080/09540090701584970.

17. Timmis J, Murray L, Neal M. A Neural-Endocrine Architecture for Foraging in Swarm Robotic Systems - Nature Inspired Cooperative Strategies for Optimization (NICSO 2010) - Studies in Computational Intelligence. Springer Berlin / Heidelberg; 2010:319-330-330. Available at: http://www.springerlink.com/content/u115n2635g1w9880/.

18. Şahin E, Winfield A. Special issue on swarm robotics. Swarm Intelligence. 2008;2(2-4):69-72. Available at: http://www.springerlink.com/index/10.1007/s11721-008-0020-6.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Hard to get iRobots

I've decided to use the iRobot Create on my project, even my advisor approved the platform, what is great!
But I simply can't buy them...
The Brazilian vendor ignore my e-mails and the international sales office automatically redirects my e-mails to the Brazilian office.

This situation is killing me.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

"Plant Neurobiology" : Smart vegetables

I've recently watched prof. Stefano Mancuso, from LINV, on TED.
He studies plant neurobiology, not sure if it's cosidered a "field",formaly speaking, but it sure deserves to be. He shows evidence of a collective intelligence in plants by analyzing electric signals an plant reactions, actions, networks etc.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Social Behavior on bacteria

A nice TED talk about bacterial communication by Bonnie Bassler. She studies how bacteria can communicate with one another, through chemical signals, to act as a unit. Her work could pave the way for new, more potent medicine.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Modular robotics now for sale

A very cool project from Cornell with modular articulated joints self-organizing robot now have a commercial similar version!
Check the video:

The commercial version is called Cubelets!

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

The Big Fail

Ow no!

Miabots are out of stock and Merlin robotics ceased it production.
Now I'm out of robots, I will have to build my own swarm...
Wish me luck, I will need it!

Friday, 27 August 2010

MIT swarm of oil cleaners

Guys from the M.I.T. Senseable City Lab developed a swarm of oil cleaners based on solar energy. Very cool! (sorry the rush, I'm preparing the great news to put on the blog!)

Sunday, 13 June 2010


Wow! Just finished my presentation for my project, I'll try to add it here to share.
Sadly it's in Portuguese by now:

Tuesday, 1 June 2010


Sorry for the long delay on posting, I'm kinda busy right now with several parallel projects and demands reaching deadlines (I hate those)...
Well, I'm really into complexity lately, found a nice book about complex systems (complex in a "standard" way, not the "mathematical" way with complex variables) talks about complexity on various kinds of dynamical systems: from thermal to demographics and economics, going through statistical physics!
My interest on complex systems is how the simple elements are organized (or self-organize) to give birth to their complex behavior, or how to develop agents with simple behaviors capable of control (or simple interact on a controlled way) with those systems.

Also, found a nice animation about our future and trillions of computers that has a proto-idea of "layered complexity", not very deep on this subject but I liked it:

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Termites as constructors, not destroyers

People tend to hate termites (I would hate to have my house eaten too!) but they show us one of the most beautiful examples of emergent behavior, collective work and decentralized task management: the termite nest.

built of mud, sand, shi... well, soil. they are tall pillars that rise from the ground, they have inside fungus gardens, deposit chambers and even a royal chamber to the queen. But the most impressive is the air recycling system! totally emergent from construction (or do you think there is a special "architect" type of termite?! Or more basic, if they even know why they build in this way!)

Here is a youtube Video from a documentary that shows one of those marvels of insect world:

Friday, 7 May 2010


Emergence is a phenomenon that intrigues me... It's quite easy to understand:
From the simple individual behavior of agents, acting locally, a global new behavior emerge from the swarm (possibly with different properties and characteristics).

Consider an "Ant Bridge":

Each individual ant is acting based on some rule like:
"reach the edge, there hold the last one"

They really don't "know" they are making a bridge, they just do it.
Following this behavior they eventually reach the other side forming a bridge. So the bridge itself is an emergent sequel of a simple behavior that had nothing to do with bridges!

I consider those kind of solutions extremely beautiful, not only because it's generality, but because the fundamental behaviors are quite simple and the combination of locally aware agents following the same simple rule solve a much more complex problem.

Monday, 3 May 2010

A Candidate for Mechanical Platform

Browsing some stuff at online shops I stumbled with Merlin Robotics Miabot , It's not the ideal thing but it can be extended thanks to some IOs to it's control board.
It's a also a little expensive for what it is, but maybe it will worth. The other option is creating a robot from scratch, what is more fun but will take more time (a LOT more) ...
I'm very tempted to buy one of those just to check it out!

A lot of designs for the extension board to run eLua and give the self-charging abilities come to my mind...

Friday, 30 April 2010

Fancy name

Soon I will present my project aspirations to some faculty members, and they will decide if I can go on with it...
but I need a "long, fancy and Portuguese" name for it. it's a hard part.

I'm thinking in something like "Desenvolvimento e análise de uma plataforma para sistemas robóticos multi-agentes colaborativos" (Development and analysis of a platform for collaborative multi-agent robotic system). Too big, too fancy...I don't like it =/

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Long Delay

Sorry for the long delay in posting! Those last weeks (including this one) had been tough...
But just to break the silence. A nice TED talk about one of my favorite themes: Biological inspired robotics. In this case locomotion:

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Swarm on Servo Magazine

Hey, Great news!
This month Servo magazine published a nice article about a swarm project, they use their zhu zhu pet as platform.

One very interesting point they touch is the virtualization of sensors. This deserves a serious post some day.
Check it out ! (it's not a mechanical marvel, but very functional for a basic swarm project):

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

A Modular Architecture for Event-Based Control of Complex Robots

This scary title is the title of a paper I've found on the internet these days.
It's pretty much useful for my research, I was thinking on ways to connect on an organized way a central controller (eLua based) and some "satellite" MCU's doing the dirty jobs (sensors low-level interface, motor control and so on...).

Here is a link, through Dr. Francesco Mondada from EPFL. (ASEBA)

Saturday, 10 April 2010

The Wild World of Robots

A nice image found at online schools :
Funny yet informative (on an useless way, but still...)Add Video

The Wild World of Robots

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Eco-Tech, some say swarm is it's biggest triumph

Reading some tech news I've found an Autoworld entry about swarm technology.
It's kinda funny see that car industry is the most excited about swarm technology, but they have their point.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Off Topic: Robot Motion

This is a little off topic, but motion control on industrial manipulators is an awesome area too so it deserve some space =).
It's quite hard to achieve precision and speed simultaneously, most because of inaccurate position sensors (the most common technique to remove the dependency of speed is a dynamic linearization, or better, a linearization of the robot dynamics by feedback from sensors)

This is a demo by ABB robotics posted originally at Hack a day some months ago...
Behold awesomeness:

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

About eLua

Well, Here is a little about eLua.
The complete port of eLua to the MCU environment (32-bits, by now) made by Mr. Bogdan Marinescu and Dado Sutter, this last one a great friend of mine from PUC-Rio and something like a tutor on this software/hardware grounds where I stand today.

For those uninformed, Lua is an interpreted language (some call a script language or dynamic language) mainly developed by Prof. Roberto Ierusalimschy (hope I got his name right =] ) also from PUC-Rio. It is very simple, small but yet powerful...So why not to use all this power on my project!?
Here is a little transcription from eLua's official site that resumes everything:

eLua stands for Embedded Lua and the project aims to offer the full implementation of the Lua Programming Language to the embedded world.

eLua is not a stripped down set of Lua to fit in the embedded environment. Much on the contrary, it strives to offer the same features as the desktop version of Lua, complementing them with specific features for embedded use and discarting the need of an operating system running on the microcontrollers. Besides offering different flavors of the full Lua implementation (like the possibility of choosing between an integer-only and a floating point numbers implementation), a lot of work was and will be done in the direction of making Lua more "embedded-friendly" by augmenting the core language with features that allow lower memory requirements and faster embedded performance.

Why Lua? Extremely well crafted, Lua is the perfect example of a minimal, yet fully functional language. Although generally advertised as a "scripting language" (and used accordingly especially in the game industry), it is also fully capable of running stand-alone programs and web services (ex: Adobe Lightroom, World of Warcraft, ...). Its limited resource requirements make it suitable to a lot of microcontroller families. The intrinsic high portability of the original Lua code (which is ANSI C and runs virtually on every platform), combined with the highly portable software architecture of eLua, allow for easy porting of the project to a large variety of architectures. The peripheral access libraries/modules exported by eLua are also portable by design, so one could run a Lua program (without or with very few modifications) on every eLua supported platform. This brings an unprecedent level of portability to the embedded aplications world. eLua inherits the minimalistic and functional design of Lua, staying in line with the well known KISS, Keep It Small and Simple philosophy.

Friday, 26 March 2010

On centralized control

Now, at the beginning of the project, I have to decide if I use a "emulated" local control or real local control.
By emulated I mean: Use a computer to send a low-level command (like "move foward" and so on) and emulate the local capabilities and knowledge of each agent on software or...
Real local control: Each robot have the complete control of it's action based on real local knowledge and processing.

I started creating a table of pros and cons of each approach to help me:


  • Much simpler robots.
  • Much Cheaper robots (an important consideration, since I'm paying for them).
  • It's easier to convert the project to an academic competition (like RoboCup) since the architecture is closer.
  • more... (help me to think about this)
  • Expend lot of time in Computer Vision, concurrence management, communication protocols, routing and other unrelated complex software.
  • Not real a swarm, since if the "brain" computer dies all agents stop...
  • Have to simulate sensors response.
  • more... (help me to think about this)
Real local:

  • True local processing.
  • Real swarm, robust in case o failure of agents.
  • Focus on behavioral algorithms instead of a simulation platform.
  • Real challenge for my MCU programming skills (and eLua's power =) ).
  • more... (help me to think about this).
  • More complex Hardware (electronics mainly).
  • Expensive agents.
  • More sensible to project errors (mostly a consequence of the complexity).
  • Turning away from other academic activities involving the built robots (again, something like RoboCup).
  • more... (help me to think about this)

Army of Lawnbots

While I have no advances in my project (I decided to not post, explicitly, about my procrastination habits) here are some interesting news about DIY robots:

Just viewed the Hackaday post about the Lawnbot400, a robot lawnmower.
Very nice!
Imagine a bunch of those moving in a synchronized way on big, irregular, field...

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Warming up

This blog is an attempt to register the development of my MSc degree thesis on swarm robotics.
So expect little tutorials, news about robotics and some desperate calls for help when I get stuck!
Ah! Just in case, you can know more about me and my research at the links on the sidebar.

Not too much by now, but I expect this to be useful for someone! (It will be for me =])

Just to give a taste, one of my preferred swarm robotics projects. the Swarm-Bots :