DCSL at Princeton University has developed a number of experimental platforms that are currently used in experimental programs and as research tools. Here we provide a brief overview of these platforms and provide links to more detailed information.
Beluga is an autonomous submersible built as part of the Bio-Ex project. A fleet of these vehicles uses automated coordinated control and human-in-the-loop algorithms in research applications.
The Belugas can move in the horizontal plane and vertically up and down. Each is made passively stable in pitch and roll by neutralizing the buoyant body with a ballast below. There are just two actuators on board: one propeller-driven thruster protruding vertically through the body and a second vectored, propeller-driven thruster extending from the tail. Measurement from an on-board pressure sensor is used to compute the Beluga’s vertical position. An overhead camera system and video processing provides real-time horizontal orientation and position of vehicles.
The robofish testbed brings live fish together with autonomously controlled robotic fish in a shallow water tank. The purpose is to study the mechanisms of schooling behavior by creating a controlled setting in which the robotic fish follow prescribed responsive behaviors. The robotic fish can be programmed with different behaviors, for example, those representative of a predator or those of an informed conspecific. An overhead camera system and real-time tracking software provide measurements from which the state of the live and robotic school can be estimated. These estimates are fedback continuously to a computer that implements a motion control algorithm for the robotic fish. In this way each robotic fish can control its own behavior in response to its environment.
The floor robot testbed consists of a fleet of MiaBotPro autonomous ground vehicles which provide a simple way to experiment with planar motion. An overhead camera system and real-time tracking software provide measurements from which the state of the vehicles can be estimated, and closed-loop control laws implemented.
As part of the Flock Logic project, DCSL has developed a framework to track dancers in real time. Once we have the tracked trajectories, further software allows us to understand the connections between dancers in the flock by means of graphs.
Previous work in control of underwater vehicles and coordinated control led to a series of ocean sampling field experiments in 2003 and 2006.