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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Pheeno, A Versatile Swarm Robotic Research and Education Platform

  • Author(s): Wilson, S
  • Gameros, R
  • Sheely, M
  • Lin, M
  • Dover, K
  • Gevorkyan, R
  • Haberland, M
  • Bertozzi, A
  • Berman, S
  • et al.

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© 2016 IEEE. Swarms of low-cost autonomous robots can potentially be used to collectively perform tasks over very large domains and time scales. Novel robots for swarm applications are currently being developed as a result of recent advances in sensing, actuation, processing, power, and manufacturing. These platforms can be used by researchers to conduct experiments with robot collectives and by educators to include robotic hardware in their curricula. However, existing low-cost robots are specialized and can lack desired sensing, navigation, control, and manipulation capabilities. This letter presents a new mobile robot platform, Pheeno, that is affordable, versatile, and suitable for multirobot research, education, and outreach activities. Users can modify Pheeno for their applications by designing custom modules that attach to its core module. We describe the design of the Pheeno core and a three degree-of-freedom gripper module, which enables unprecedented manipulation capabilities for a robot of Pheeno's size and cost. We experimentally demonstrate Pheeno's ability to fuse measurements from its onboard odometry for global position estimation and use its camera for object identification in real time. We also show that groups of two and three Pheenos can act on commands from a central controller and consistently transport a payload in a desired direction.

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