Robot Swarms

Servo motors are adept at telling robots to make precise movements. Safety systems override those commands when something potentially dangerous takes place.

The potentially dangerous thing might be an overheating motor, a movement outside of specific parameters, or an issue with the voltage. It might also be some other entity moving into the robot’s space.

Think about a large metal object moving forcefully and perhaps at great speed without paying any attention to other entities in its space and you can see why this is important.

But when it comes to self-driving cars or dockside robots transporting containers to storage areas, you can also see that just shutting down if something gets close is not a practical solution. A self-driving car that shuts down any time another car passes in the next lane is not going to work.

In factories, too, robots are increasingly being let out of their cages so they can stack pallets or perform other tasks that will naturally be done in proximity to other objects, machines, or even humans. We’re saying “increasingly,” but that means an increase over zero. Real increases in the use of this technology are hindered by the problem of proximity.

Human beings can handle moving through a shared space in different ways, with different intentions, using different vehicles, with very little death and destruction. Robots need to develop this ability, if they’re going to collaborate with humans and with other machines in the ways we hope they will.


Researchers from Georgia Tech have been working on a new way for robots to interact. As you can see in the video at the top of this post, they’ve been able to develop robots that can swarm safely.

With cleverly configured sensors and a reduced “panic zone,” the robots can do a little folk dance routine instead of running into each other. Impressively, they can do this even in the presence of one unpredictable robot.

While we wait for the factory of the future with its many autonomously animated robots, drones, and machines, we can help you with current or legacy Rexroth electric motion control. Contact us now.

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