COTS Scout: Team Building Robot

The COTS Scout (Commodity-Off-The-Shelf) robot is learning to play well with others - and to work as part of a search and rescue team.


(From Univ. of Minn. Center for Distributed Robotics)

Small remotely controlled robots can be very useful for investigating territory where humans cannot go, or in groups, they can look over more territory than just one person. The COTS Scout robot has these specs:

  • Length: 135 mm
  • Diameter: 45 mm (main body)
  • Weight: 190 g
  • Top Speed: 57 mm wheel 0.39 m/s, 64 mm wheel 0.42 m/s, 76 mm wheel 0.50 m/s
  • Sensors: Camera (B/W), three infrared range finders, two light sensors and a pyroelectric sensor (for sensing body heat
  • Control: two-way remote-control system that supports frequency hopping and signal encryption
Researchers from the University of Minnesota, the University of Pennsylvania and Caltech are devising software that will allow small robots to coordinate their actions and carry out complex commands from a human operator. The advantage is that one person could control a large group of robots by directing and giving tasks to a team leader robot, which would direct the others.

Software developed by the team would provide for collaborative sensing, distributed exploration and mapping, and independent coordination amongst each other without human intervention.

SF fans may recall that this problem is explored in Neal Stephenson's 1995 novel The Diamond Age. Swarms of tiny robots form a dog pod grid, to defend suburban enclaves from attacks by other tiny robots.

From Turning Robots into a Well-Oiled Machine via Eurekalert.org.

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