The new generation of robot swarm called Khepera Bots from Georgia Tech plays the familiar classical tune Beethoven’s Fur Elise. The researchers from the laboratories of GRITS (Georgia Robotics and Intelligent Systems) have done this at Georgia Tech. They programmed these miniature robots to play Beethoven’s on a virtual piano on a flat plane. The robots figured out themselves and one robot leads the troop as a leader who knows the information about playing the tune. The leader robot knows how and where a robot has to be to produce the perfect notes. He assigns the role to other robots by conveying the message to play Fur Elise.
The Khepera team contains miniature bots of just 5.5 cm across their thimble shaped body. Each robot contains two wheels to move and a host of sensors which includes the antenna and tiny hat for the communication. The idea behind their design is to create swarming behavior between them which mimics the similar swarming behavior of the birds, fishes and animals. With this behavior, each robot moves based on the actions and locations of the other robots and surroundings. The objective of this research was to make the individual bots of the swarm to appear at a specific location on the virtual key board and to create the perfect note of the tune to make the music. The leader bot was told the necessary data points beforehand. Then, the leader conveys the message to other bots how and where they should be.
The swarm programming became a little difficult to the researchers when they added some other elements to their goal which they thought those would help them to learn about programming swarm behavior. The researchers wanted their bots to use least number of themselves and the shortest route which is possible to play a song based on the tempo. If the song needed to be played slowly, it could be done by single bot racing all over the virtual key board. But when tempo picks up, one bot will not be enough to get to the next note on time to keep up with the tempo. So, they added bot by bot to meet the tempo which started the swarm. There is an amazing thing about the leader of the troop, he is not just tell the others how and where they should be and also coveys the information to the nearest bot. The nearest bot in turn conveys the message to the other bots near to him and so on, in this way the message reaches the target bot. This method makes each and every robot to know when and where they should be on playing music which is just like the swarming behavior in nature.
The swarm program is such a cute thing when playing the Beethoven’s tune on a piano, but it can be an incredible military application in near future. As for now, we can enjoy the Fur Elise from the cute miniature robots.