Title: Advancing Mobile Robots to 3D
Most of the mobile robots nowadays essentially move on the ground without wall-climbing capability. The "City-Climber" robots developed at the City College of New York (CCNY) are able to move on virtually any kind of smooth or rough surfaces and can carry a relative large payload. Unlike the conventional ground mobile robots operating in 2D space, and UAVs in 3D space, the City-Climber robots operate in constrained 3D space, i.e., its action space is confined within planar surfaces while the sensing space is 3D, facilitated by the freedom of motion on ground, walls, and ceilings. This attribution provides both opportunities and challenges. One of the benefits is that the City-Climber can take vantage positions on a ceiling or wall to gain better view of the scene. The challenges lie in the fact that most of the existing planning/control methods for multi-robot systems are no longer valid and it demands new framework to deal with this hard yet previously unexplored research domain involving wall-climbing robots. The PI proposed to develop a general framework and provide a theoretical foundation to deal with planning, control and coordination problems for a group of heterogeneous wall-climbing robots and ground robots operating in the constrained 3D space of urban environments. The issues to be studied in this thrust include: abstraction of world models for complex urban environments; computational efficiency and data structure for the world abstraction and representation; dynamic view planning and motion planning for a multi-robot team in constrained 3D space; a framework integrating the discrete world representation, high level planning and lower level control primitives; case studies of the framework using several exemplar tasks (i.e., self-deployment, surveillance coverage, formation control of multi-robots, and target tracking), and the experimental validation of the proposed methods and algorithms. Being an integral part of the career development plan, the proposed education activities include: integration of research into curriculum, mentored research experience for students, improving the educational pipeline with coherent education and outreach activities, enhancing the robotics extension programs targeted for K-12 education.
Leveraging the CAREER grant, we have been conducting multi-scale (from individual robot, multi-robot teams to swarm robotics), wide-spectrum research (for different canonical tasks such as multi-robot exploration, autonomous navigation, 3D mapping, 3D SLAM) around a unified theme (i.e., Advancing Mobile Robot to 3D).