Small robots for shop inventory

(Entry by Víctor Casamayor, UbicaLab)

At the 5th ETIC Doctoral Student Workshop I was awarded with the Transfer Perspectives Award. I was presenting a poster where I showed, based on computer simulations, that a swarm of small robots was able to take inventory of a shop without the need of any prior knowledge and with the minimal set of resources.

In our research group (UbiCA Lab) we have been working with a robot that takes inventory (see Development of an RFID Inventory Robot (AdvanRobot)*) but we are always looking for new algorithms that provide more autonomy and better performance to robots. In this regard, the algorithm developed is based on the ants strategy to get food, but in our case, the robots use the RFID tags to choose its path instead of the chemical pheromones that ants use.

Now, thanks to the support of the MdM project and the prize that I got, we have available two Turtlebots, the robots that can be seen in the image, to go from the computer simulation to real tests.

In that sense, we are working in two main tasks. First, regarding the robots, we are preparing a payload with an RFID system (consisting of a reader and 4 antennas) and adapting all the software to this new hardware. Second, together with the collaboration of the campus library, we will be adding more than 7000 RFID tags to books during this summer, that along with the 3000 tags that are already placed, we will have a testing area with more than 10000 tags in a single floor of the library.

To sum up, we expect being able to test the algorithm with real robots and in a real environment by September, achieving this will be a huge step forward to this research.

* A pre-print version is available here.