Robotics, Intelligent Systems, and Control Lab prepares robots to have swarm intelligence

The University's Robotics, Intelligent Systems, and Control lab team works on swarm robotics, developing ways for robots to work together on collaborative tasks. Photo by Sarah Munshi.

The KAUST Robotics, Intelligent Systems, and Control (RISC) lab takes a "think globally, act locally" approach in swarm robotics. The RISC lab develops methodologies to deploy robots to work together to achieve collaborative tasks in missions involving crucial time-sensitive tasks, such as team search and rescue, patrolling for safety and environmental monitoring.

To address these applications, the RISC lab develops algorithms to enable robots to operate with limited or even no human supervision.

"We want to move away from the low-level remotely operated model to more of a high-level human supervised model. Instead of a robot being an extension of the operator, it can be a partner that is trying to collaborate with the human operator," said Jeff Shamma, principal investigator at RISC and KAUST professor of electrical engineering.

A sought-after scenario would be an emergency event in which the robot is sent out to explore the environment, figure out where the attention needs to be and help evacuate or give aid to an individual. Beyond building onboard intelligence, the RISC lab is stepping up the game through the use of game theory.

"Game theory is the study of interconnected intelligent decision makers. While it has been used traditionally as a modeling formalism in social sciences, our lab has been investigating its role for engineered systems," Shamma explained.

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