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Characterisation and upgrade of the communication between overhead controllers and Kilobots

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posted on 10.05.2017 by Eleftherios Nikolaidis, Chelsea Sabo, James Marshall, Andreagiovanni Reina

This study consists in (i) characterising the infrared (IR) communication between the Kilobot robots and the overhead controller (OHC), (ii) identifying potential communication problems and (iii) designing solutions to them. Typically Kilobots operate in large environments, therefore a large OHC communication range is necessary (e.g., to begin or stop an experiment). We investigated how the communication range is influenced by the surface material (glass vs. whiteboard), the ambient light and the type of LEDs on the OHC. The material that maximises the communication range is the whiteboard (Perspexà Frost matt acrylic, color Moonlight White S2 1T41) which also reduces the reflections from the fluorescent lights. Additionally, our study shows that the ambient light influences the communication range; as such, we designed and implemented an external IR light device that considerably improves the communication. Finally, to reach a large area of coverage, we designed and implemented a new OHC board. The board is equipped with the infrared LEDs (TSAL6200) that gave the best performance in the performed tests. In this report, we provide the results of our tests and the design of the new boards.

Funding

The project is partially funded by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement number 647704), DiODe project.

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