The swarm of robots used for Dr. McLurkin's work is shown below, and was built during his tenure at iRobot corporation as project manager and lead software engineer on the DARPA-funded Swarm project. The core of the system is the infrared inter-robot communication and localization system. This hardware was designed to provide each robot with its local network geometry: network connectivity and local pose estimation of neighboring robots. Multi-robot configuration control algorithms must be able to sense the geometry of the network. The most common sensor models assume that either only the ranges between robots is known, or that there is a global coordinate system. However, range-only models require extensive computation to produce useful geometric information, and global coordinates might not be available in all environments. The local network geometry model is a compromise between these two that is well-suited to multi-robot systems.
The orientation behavior demonstrates the local network geometry. The video shows the matchHeadingToRobot behavior in action. The robot with the antenna is the reference robot, all other robots are active robots.
Visit the distributed algorithm library page to see more algorithms that use the local network geometry.