Hands-on Experiments with Teams of Tiny Ground Robots and Drones

Photo of ADAMS Lab swarm robot hardware and example of swarm experiment in motion capture room.

Teams of tiny robots and drones to the rescue: learn how to run physical experiments with dozens of robots working together to search, survey or deliver goods, autonomously.

Project description

The project focuses on programming tiny (palm sized) ground-based robots and aerial robots (aka drones), and performing experiments with them in a motion capture facility that tracks each robot individually. We can also use an overhead projector to project virtual maps and environments over which the robots will operate. The goal of this project is to test and validate various multi-robot and robot swarm applications such as area coverage, hazard localization, formation flight and multi-task completion. These algorithms are connected with real-world applications mainly in disaster response (e.g., flood response, finding skiers trapped under avalanche, search and rescue etc.), pollution clean-up and goods/material transportation. These small lab-scale experiments with the tiny robots will serve as a scaled down validation of how effective (aka efficient, fast, reliable) will be such multi-robot solutions in real-world applications. In corollary, we will also study the interactions of these teams of tiny robots with human supervisors that communicate with them through a computer game based interface. This UG research opportunity is part of a larger project funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF).

Depending on student background and expected time commitment, hourly support (remuneration) might be available for working on this project. Preferred skills include some programming experience in Python or C. Any prior experience working with robots, drones, sensors and other embedded systems including Raspberry Pi's is a plus. Students from all engineering disciplines are encouraged to apply for this opportunity.

Project outcome

Technical Outcomes:
1. Development of experimental protocols for multi-robot and robot-swarm applications
2. Validation of our multi-robot algorithms
3. Identification of potential design improvements to the robots
4. Cool videos to showcase our multi-robot technologies
5. Technical presentations/publications at top Design and Robotics conferences.

Learning Outcomes:
1. Programming in Python
2. How to run codes on small robots, and communicate with them over a wireless network
3. Using motion capture facility for tracking robots
4. Introduction to Robotic Operating System (ROS)
5. How to work in a team setting on a high-impact fast paced project

Project details

Timing, eligibility and other details
Length of commitment About a semester (3-5 months)
Start time Fall (August/September)
Winter (December)
Spring (January/February)
In-person, remote, or hybrid? In-person
Level of collaboration Small group project (2-3 students)
Benefits Academic credit, stipend
Who is eligible Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors with programming experience in Python or C. Any prior experience working with robots, drones, sensors and other embedded systems including Raspberry Pi's is a plus.

Core partners

  • Prajit (Ph.D. student)
  • Henry (U.G. student

Lab Website: http://adams.eng.buffalo.edu/

Project mentor

Souma Chowdhury

Associate Professor

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Phone: (716) 645-3059

Email: soumacho@buffalo.edu

Start the project

  1. Email the project mentor using the contact information above to express your interest and get approval to work on the project. (Here are helpful tips on how to contact a project mentor.)
  2. After you receive approval from the mentor to start this project, click the button to start the digital badge. (Learn more about ELN's digital badge options.) 

Preparation activities

Once you begin the digital badge series, you will have access to all the necessary activities and instructions. Your mentor has indicated they would like you to also complete the specific preparation activities below. Please reference this when you get to Step 2 of the Preparation Phase. 


engineering, robotics, drones, artificial intelligence, disaster response, programming, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Computer Science and Engineering, Electrical Engineering