Collective transport via sequential caging

Vivek Shankar Vardharajan, Karthik Soma, Giovanni Beltrame

We propose a decentralized algorithm to collaboratively transport arbitrarily shaped objects using a swarm of robots. Our approach starts with a task allocation phase that sequentially distributes locations around the object to be transported starting from a seed robot that makes first contact with the object. Our approach does not require previous knowledge of the shape of the object to ensure caging. To push the object to a goal location, we estimate the robots required to apply force on the object based on the angular difference between the target and the object. During transport, the robots follow a sequence of intermediate goal locations specifying the required pose of the object at that location. We evaluate our approach in a physics-based simulator with up to 100 robots, using three generic paths. Experiments using a group of KheperaIV robots demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach in a real setting. Keywords: Collaborative transport, Task Allocation, Caging, Robot Swarms

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