This paper presents four distributed motion controllers to enable a group of robots to collectively transport an object towards a guide robot. These controllers include: rotation around a pivot robot, rotation in-place around an estimated centroid of the object, translation, and a combined motion of rotation and translation in which each manipulating robot follows a trochoid path. Three of these controllers require an estimate of the centroid of the object, to use as the axis of rotation. Assuming the object is surrounded by manipulator robots, we approximate the centroid of the object by measuring the centroid of the manipulating robots. Our algorithms and controllers are fully distributed and robust to changes in network topology, robot population, and sensor error. We tested all of the algorithms in real-world environments with 9 robots, and show that the error of the centroid estimation is low, and that all four controllers produce reliable motion of the object.
Distributed Centroid Estimation and Motion Controllers for Collective Transport by Multi-Robot Systems