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posted by hubie on Monday July 11, @03:23AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the men-without-hats dept.

Bees' 'waggle dance' may revolutionize how robots talk to each other in disaster zones:

Where are those flowers and how far away are they? This is the crux of the "waggle dance" performed by honeybees to alert others to the location of nectar-rich flowers. A new study in Frontiers in Robotics and AI has taken inspiration from this technique to devise a way for robots to communicate.

The first robot traces a shape on the floor, and the shape's orientation and the time it takes to trace it tell the second robot the required direction and distance of travel. The technique could prove invaluable in situations where robot labor is required but network communications are unreliable, such as in a disaster zone or in space.

[...] This ingenious method of communication inspired the researchers behind this latest study to apply it to the world of robotics. Robot cooperation allows multiple robots to coordinate and complete complex tasks. Typically, robots communicate using digital networks, but what happens when these are unreliable, such as during an emergency or in remote locations? Moreover, how can humans communicate with robots in such a scenario?

To address this, the researchers designed a visual communication system for robots with on-board cameras, using algorithms that allow the robots to interpret what they see. They tested the system using a simple task, where a package in a warehouse needs to be moved. The system allows a human to communicate with a "messenger robot," which supervises and instructs a "handling robot" that performs the task.

[...] "This technique could be useful in places where communication network coverage is insufficient and intermittent, such as robot search-and-rescue operations in disaster zones or in robots that undertake space walks," said Prof Abhra Roy Chowdhury of the Indian Institute of Science, senior author on the study.

Video included with robot narrator.

Journal Reference:
Joshi, Kaustubh, Roy Chowdhury, Abhra. Bio-Inspired Vision and Gesture-Based Robot-Robot Interaction for Human-Cooperative Package Delivery, Frontiers in Robotics and AI (DOI: 10.3389/frobt.2022.915884)


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  • (Score: 3, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 11, @04:21AM (4 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 11, @04:21AM (#1259649)

    Robots working in groups like that would use wifi mesh protocol or equivalent to talk to each other. That's cheaper, more reliable, more capable, and uses less power than some funky optical recognition system.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 11, @11:58AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 11, @11:58AM (#1259736)

      Came here to say this. Glad it's the frosty piss.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 11, @02:12PM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 11, @02:12PM (#1259783)

      technically if the agents are exploring separate paths in collapsed buildings/caves, radio/sound transmissions will become unreliable, so a writing system would be required, with notes left at reasonable locations (tunnel intersections etc).
      I don't see why the robots can't simply paint/draw something like barcodes though.

      obviously if they can see each other for the "draw on floor"/dance option (sort of reasonable in a fuzzy setting with possible lightning flashes), the better option is using a strong light for Morse code (or equivalent modern error-correcting protocol).

      separately, existing wi-fi technology would be problematic under water, but sound is a good option there (interestingly, submariners would start associating modem sounds with salvation).

      • (Score: 2) by helel on Monday July 11, @02:56PM

        by helel (2949) on Monday July 11, @02:56PM (#1259790)

        I think maybe the argument is that these robots will already need to be able to move and have cameras and we want a communication method that doesn't require any new hardware to be added? But this still seems pretty impractical compared to just giving every robot an LED or bluetooth chip.

        --
        Republican Patriotism [youtube.com]
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 11, @05:30PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 11, @05:30PM (#1259838)

        technically if the agents are exploring separate paths in collapsed buildings/caves, radio/sound transmissions will become unreliable, so a writing system would be required, with notes left at reasonable locations (tunnel intersections etc).
        I don't see why the robots can't simply paint/draw something like barcodes though.

        Notes can be obscured and don't support real-time command and control. It's more useful to drop network relays at intersections and along long passages. If you want to get fancy you can even string fibre.

        separately, existing wi-fi technology would be problematic under water, but sound is a good option there (interestingly, submariners would start associating modem sounds with salvation).

        That's why I said 'or equivalent'. Mesh protocol doesn't really care what the physical medium is. Optical and acoustic carriers can work just fine if the environment calls for them. As we aren't limited by AT&T telephone equipment there is no reason to operate within human hearing range.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Some call me Tim on Monday July 11, @04:21AM (1 child)

    by Some call me Tim (5819) on Monday July 11, @04:21AM (#1259650)

    Why the hell would you waste time having robots do a waggle dance when they could just transmit the GPS coordinates in a few milliseconds? In the case of no GPS they could just send the direction/distance traveled information to an internal mapping system for the area in question. If they can't use radio and they can use optics, transmit the data using infrared. Damn you, stop making sense! That person will bleed out if we have to reprogram our bots to use a faster communication system.

    --
    Questioning science is how you do science!
  • (Score: 4, Touché) by Some call me Tim on Monday July 11, @04:26AM (1 child)

    by Some call me Tim (5819) on Monday July 11, @04:26AM (#1259651)

    "or in robots that undertake space walks"
    How the Eff are they going to do an accurate waggle dance in zero G?

    --
    Questioning science is how you do science!
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 11, @01:43PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 11, @01:43PM (#1259773)

      they don't do waggle dance, they draw on the floor. can't you read?!

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