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Research@Mines - by Subject
Robotics

The Potential Power of Autonomous Flying Swarms

Shankarachary Ragi, Ph.D. an assistant professor of electrical engineering at Mines holds three hummingbird sized drones that his team is working with.

If you’ve ever marveled at a flock of birds moving in complex patterns as if it were one single large organism, you’re not alone. Researchers at South Dakota School of Mines & Technology are working to infuse similar cooperative behavior on a collection of flying robots. This is not an easy task, birds have millions of years of evolution that allow them to flock, researchers developing swarm robotics are writing mathematical models to mimic some of this behavior. Developing the ability for drones to work together in swarms could have wide-ranging applications­—from agriculture to military use. But many scientific hurdles remain.

“These decision-making problems are very challenging because each independent robot in the swarm has to predict how others will behave in the future and then make its own decisions accordingly,” says Shankarachary Ragi, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at SD Mines who is leading the research. Ragi and his team are helping to develop mathematical models, or algorithms, that enable these kinds of cooperative behaviors in drones.

Decades ago, computer scientists realized they could build a virtual supercomputer by making several normal- sized computers work together in a n...

Last Edited 2/12/2019 08:11:08 AM [Comments (0)]

SD Mines Students Develop Free Robot Programming Simulator

The RoboScience Simulator looks like a rudimentary video game on the screen, but gets the job done when it comes to teaching students to code. Pictured below: Members of the RoboScience Simulator senior design team include computer science majors (pictured) Samuel Williams, Kendra Deziel and Ryley Sutton. Team members not pictured are Christopher Smith, a master’s student in computational sciences and robotics, and computer science major Andrew Stelter.

Robot Programming Simulator

When it comes to programming actual robots, things get very expensive, very quickly.

“Robots are unforgiving,” says Dr. Jeffrey McGough, professor of mathematics and computer science at South Dakota School of Mines & Technology. “And maintenance of robots is painful.”

Students learning to program autonomous robots often spend more time repairing them after they are damaged as a result of coding mistakes than they do learning to actually program. An incorrectly programmed robot might drive off a table top or crash into a wall, requiring hours of hands-on repair work, McGough says.

McGough began looking for curriculum and/or software to teach his students robot programming seven years ago. He quickly realized there was little available. He experimented with a Roomba Robot Vacuum, but the maintenance costs quickly added up.

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Last Edited 2/25/2019 04:30:13 PM [Comments (0)]