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Hybrid Control for Large Swarms of Aquatic Drones

Duarte, M. ; Oliveira, S. ; Christensen, A.

Hybrid Control for Large Swarms of Aquatic Drones, Proc International Conf. on the Simulation and Synthesis of Living Systems - ALIFE, New York, United States, Vol. 14, pp. 1 - 8, July, 2014.

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Maritime tasks, such as surveillance and patrolling, aquaculture inspection, and wildlife monitoring, typically require large operational crews and expensive equipment. Only recently have unmanned vehicles started to be used for such missions. These vehicles, however, tend to be expensive and have limited coverage, which prevents large-scale deployment. In this paper, we propose a scalable robotics system based on swarms of small and inexpensive aquatic drones. We take advantage of bio-inspired artificial evolution techniques in order to synthesize scalable and robust collective behaviors for the drones. The behaviors are then combined hierarchically with preprogrammed control in an engineered-centric approach, allowing the overall behavior for a particular mission to be quickly configured and tested in simulation before the aquatic drones are deployed. We demonstrate the scalability of our hybrid approach by successfully deploying up to 1,000 simulated drones to patrol a 20 km long strip for 24 hours.