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Multi-robot Communication for Education and Research

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Robots and K-12 Computer Applications

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.919.1 - 23.919.12



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Paper Authors


Robert L. Avanzato Pennsylvania State University, Abington

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Bob Avanzato is an associate professor of engineering at the Penn State's Abington campus where he teaches courses in electrical and computer engineering, computer science, and information sciences and technology. His research interests are mobile robotics, intelligent systems, virtual world technology and innovative education.

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Multi-robot Communication for Education and ResearchMulti-robot communication is a key technology in modern robotics education and research.There are many challenging and complex real-world problems which are best solved by teamsof robots which are able to communicate, share resources and coordinate tasks. For example,search and rescue, exploration, mapping, reconnaissance, and remote data collection may allbenefit from robot teams or swarms which rely on multi-robot communication technology. Dueto the importance of multi-robot solutions, it is equally important that undergraduateeducation and research facilities have access to low-cost, reliable and robust robotcommunication technology, and have access to the associated educational resources in order toeffectively expose this technology to students. This paper describes the application of XBeeradio technology (Digi International) and RobotC development software (CMU NREC RobotAcademy) to develop educational resources, laboratory exercises and projects to implementmulti-robot communication for undergraduate engineering and information science students.The capabilities of these development tools also support multi-robot solutions across severalmobile robot platforms, including VEX, Lego NXT, and Arduino.In one undergraduate project a team of four autonomous mobile robots, consisting of one NXTrobot and three VEX robots, was designed and implemented to cooperatively explore a mazewith the goal of extinguishing multiple candles, which were randomly located. Informationabout individual robot status and achieved goals was successfully communicated and sharedamong the robots in the team in order to complete the challenge as specified. In anothermulti-robot laboratory, multi-robot communication was used to synchronize robot “dance”activities in a team of robots. Additionally, this technology was employed to design an“intelligent” remote control device which is capable of wirelessly controlling the motion ofindividual or teams of mobile robots and also capable of receiving and displaying select robotsensor data which is transmitted back to the controller for data logging purposes. The purposeof this paper is to describe the innovative educational resources, tutorials, laboratories, andprojects developed to support multi-robot communication with mobile robots. Due to thesuccessful implementation, ease of use, and multi-platform support, these resources will be ofvalue to educators involved in multi-robot education and research.

Avanzato, R. L. (2013, June), Multi-robot Communication for Education and Research Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22304

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