Robotics

Swarm Robotics

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Swarm robotics is about creating a large collection of simple robots. Each robot has limited intelligence and works with local rules. The idea is to obtain collective, decentralised intelligence. Typical application include collective exploration, collaboration to transport a large object, pattern formation.

You will conduct a literature review to identify various applications as well as platforms suitable for simulating a swarm. Then, of course, you will identify various algorithms to obtain collective intelligence.

You will select an application and a simulation platform (may I suggest Webots which is free, powerful, installed in the labs, and I have experience of this). Then you will verify your code, using results from the literature, and finally evaluate the accuracy of your simulations. Of course there will be a number of 'free' parameters in the model. You could investigate the effect of changing these parameters on the results of your simulations.

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Quadruped, Hexapod, Fish-like or Snake Robots

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You've probably seen movie-clips of Spot the quadruped robot that can open doors. You may even have been on the Boston Dynamics Website https://www.bostondynamics.com/ with tons of interesting robots.

In this project you will do a literature review of legged (or finned or scaly) robots and choose one to build. You are likely to obtain the gait of the robot using a small number of artificial neurons ('Central Pattern Generator').

This project will make use of the Webots robot simulation platform.

 

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Ethical Robots

Development of software capable of making ethical judgement is important research; the advent of driver-less cars will likely make ethical agents a legal requirement.

In this project, you will work with 'Braitenberg's Vehicles', two-wheeled steerable robots with a small number of sensors. Following a literature review, you will design and code various behaviours of a collection of robots according to a number of ethical principles.

This project will use the Webot robot simulation platform.

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Controlling Robots with Artificial Neural Networks

You will research the literature to discover how ANNs have been used as robot controllers, e.g., to follow lines, to discover targets, obstacle recognition and avoidance, navigation through mazes.

You will then evaluate the feasibility of implementing some of these approaches, and then choose and implement one. You will program in C (preferred by me, haha), C++, Java or Python (maybe) using the Webots robot simulation platform. You will evaluate the performance of your robot against a metric which you identify (almost certainly from the literature)

 

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Robot Navigation and/or Obstacle Avoidance

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Robot navigation and obstacle avoidance is a complex topic, and still subject of much research. This project will identify one aspect of navigation or object avoidance and investigate it using simulated  robots. Possible aspects are (i) Navigation through rooms connected by doors, (ii) Navigation through a collection of obstacles, (iii) Learning to recognize elements in a maze and move through it. A fair amount of mathematics will be needed. This project will make use of the Webots robot simulation platform.

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