I will present some of our past and recent work being done at JAIST as well as our vision toward distributed and cooperative networked robotics. First, a collaborative knowledge network is proposed in an attempt to generate sophisticated robotic behavior with minimal end-user programming effort, which is facilitated by the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) technologies. The proposed network connects heterogeneous resources to collectively build up the robot’s knowledge required to accomplish a given task. Specifically, a decentralized knowledge acquisition and task specific integration model is proposed, where the proposed knowledge integrator merges specific knowledge with existing knowledge into a task requiring knowledge. A detailed analysis of the knowledge flow model is described. To verify the validity of the proposed model, a test bed is built and table clearing task is performed.
Secondly, a self-contained direction sensing RFID reader is presented employing a dual-directional antenna for automated target acquisition and docking of a mobile robot in indoor environments. The dual-directional antenna estimates the direction of arrival (DOA) of signals from a transponder by using the ratio of the received signal strengths between two adjacent antennas positioned perpendicular to each other. One of the technical challenges is how to sustain the accuracy of the estimated DOA that varies according to environmental conditions. To cope with this problem, the direction correction algorithm is proposed to triangulate the location of the transponder with the most recent three DOA estimates. Using the algorithm, autonomous mobile robot docking to an RFID transponder is validated in an office environment occupied by obstacles.
Last but not least, the fundamental problems and practical issues underlying the deployment of a swarm of mobile robots are discussed that can be used to build mobile sensor networks. For the purpose, a geometric approach is proposed that allows robots to configure themselves into a two-dimensional plane with uniform spatial density. Each robot interacts selectively with two neighboring robots so that three robots can converge onto each vertex of the equilateral triangle configuration. Based on the local interaction, the self-configuration algorithm is presented to enable a swarm of robots to form a communication network arranged in equilateral triangular lattices. Convergence of the algorithms is mathematically proved using Lyapunov theory. Toward applying the proposed algorithms to self-configuring a network of mobile sensors, some essential features of the algorithms are discussed.