The RoboBees project is a 5-yr $10M NSF Innovation in Computing effort to building a swarm of flapping-wing micro-aerial vehicles (MAV). Each MAV is projected to be 1g in weight, run on about 500 mw of power, and be about 3 cm long. A swarm of RoboBees is estimated to contain a few hundred RoboBees similar to bees in nature. There are numerous challenges in designing flapping wing vehicles at this size.
These challenges are broadly divided into brain, body, and colony areas. The Brain area is to design custom low-power computing and sensing onboard along with the power electronics to drive the entire system. The Body focuses on novel actuation mechanisms, bio-mimetic wing design, as well as novel control mechanisms to control a RoboBee. The Colony effort deals with programming and coordination of a swarm of such MAVs targeting specific applications such as crop pollination and urban search-and-rescue. In this talk, I will describe some of the advances made along these lines with an emphasis on coordination of a swarm of RoboBees.
Karthik Dantu is a postdoctoral fellow in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University. His interests are broadly in designing large-scale systems that combine computing, communication, sensing, and actuation such as multi-robot systems, networked embedded systems, and cyber-physical systems. As part of the RoboBees project, his work has focused on programming and coordination of swarms of MAVs. Prior to Harvard, he obtained his PhD. under the guidance of Prof. Gaurav Sukhatme in the Computer Science Dept. at University of Southern California working on various aspects of connectivity and coordination in both static and mobile sensor networks.