Smart Beacons and their Application to Distributed Multi-Robot Construction Tasks

Dylan Scott, Ya-Jun Pan, and Leslie Ssebazza


Multi-robot construction, Intelligent Systems, Swarm robots


Social insects have several inherent abilities which are of interest to robotics researchers. One unique and interesting ability is that of distributed and cooperative construction. The mechanism often used in construction by insects is that of an available build pattern or template; this same mechanism can be used by multi-robot teams to carry out similar construction tasks. In most cases preexisting environmental templates are used to guide work. However, in this paper a system that is capable of creating more generalized planar shapes, namely those shapes consisting solely of straight lines, is demonstrated. The system maintains minimalism through the use of simple homogeneous robots, homogeneous and passive building blocks, and simple yet smart beacons. Shapes are constructed based on the placement of these smart beacons, which are positioned, according to a program stored onboard them, in the environment by robots. The work demonstrated herein details a system, which, due to inherent simplicity and abilities, is well suited for many of the proposed application areas for multi-robot construction tasks. Simulation results are shown to demonstrate the effectiveness of this approach.

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