The Georgia Institute of Technology is coming up with a new laboratory facility that will let robotics researchers from all over the United States conduct remote experiments. Roboticists from other schools, even students in middle school, can schedule experiments, upload programming code, view real-time video feeds of robots and receive the data they need.
No other facility exists in other universities at the moment like the “Robotarium,” which is expected to accommodate up to 100 aerial and ground robots, because many institutions don’t have the resources for building and maintaining such a lab. Without facilities to work on, roboticists and those just starting in the field could be disheartened.
“We need to provide more access to more people in order to continue creating robot-assisted technologies,” said Magnus Egerstedt from Georgia Tech’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
Egerstedt will be heading the project and he will be assisted by several faculty members from Georgia Tech. These faculty members will also gain access to the Robotarium for their own curriculum and experiments.
Georgia Tech actually already has a smaller version of the facility that graduate students use for completing robotics projects. In a recent test session, University of California, San Diego researchers were able to upload their code successfully in the mini Robotarium.
Access is a big undertaking for the project but it is just one of the goals of the Robotarium.
To Egerstedt, the facility offers the possibility of building stronger networks that will promote more collaborative research, which in turn can show that the Robotarium will be beneficial beyond robotics.
Georgia Tech received two grants from the National Science Foundation for the Robotarium. One will be used for converting and furnishing one of the university’s classrooms while the other will be used for creating safe open-access systems for the facility.
With robots undoubtedly roaming around in the Robotarium, one of the first orders of business for Georgia Tech is the development of an algorithm that will prevent robot collisions. The university now has one courtesy of Aaron Ames, a Woodruff associate professor also part of the project.
Researchers can expect full use of the Robotarium by 2017.