Multi-Robot Manipulation without Communication

In this work, we presents a novel consensus-based multi-robot manipulation algorithm which allows a large number of small robots to move a comparatively large object along a desired trajectory to a goal location. The algorithm does not require an explicit communication network among the robots. Instead, the robots coordinate their actions through sensing the motion of the object itself. It is proven that this implicit information is sufficient to synchronize the forces applied by the robots. A leader robot then steers the forces of the synchronized group to manipulate the object through the desired trajectory to the goal. Our algorithms are proven to control both translational and rotational motion of the object.

The video below verifies our algorithms in simulation, where we use a famous physics engine named Open Dynamic Engine (ODE).  Two scenarios are demonstrated with 20 robots transporting a rectangular plank and 1000 robots transporting a piano.

For more details about our approach, please refer to our paper [1].

[1] Z. Wang, M. Schwager, “Multi-Robot Manipulation without Communication,” In International Symposium on Distributed Autonomous Robotic Systems(DARS 14), November, 2014.