TigerBug: Defining the Project

This is part of TigerBug, a robot design I am working on for use at RIT for swarm research and as a fundraising/education tool . Take a look at the project hub for more progress on different components of this project. 

This fall has been incredibly busy for me. Between my senior year courses, a pretty large Senior Design project (which is something else I should be documenting…), and my role as President on the FIRST mentoring club, my resources have been drawn thin. So, it sounds like the perfect moment to start on yet another robotics hardware project. No, it doesn’t? what’s that? I can’t hear you…

Tigerbug is a combination of projects, technically. I needed to propose a project for one of my courses this fall, and I chose to investigate swarm robotics,  something that isn’t researched much at RIT and a topic that I’m interested in studying more. At the same time, my robotics club is looking for a new way to fundraise for our various activities and events, and were discussing selling robot kits. What if, I thought to myself, I just combined these ideas into one?

I attempted to gather interested parties from my own club and from another robotics club on campus. After an unfortunately lukewarm response from both, I was afraid that the project would never get off the ground. But after convincing a fellow robotics classmate to sign off on this ambitious project, we started brainstorming how this whole thing would work:

This looks like an ambitious plan, and it is… green represents the goals that we’ll be focusing on for now.

As the main purpose of the project was now to create a swarm robot simulation, we first started thinking about what robotic simulation we would be able to accomplish within the time and budget given to us. Ultimately, we decided on a model (more on this later), but with the caveat  that the full scale swarm simulation would be developed in software. Back in the real world, we would also be concurrently developing a swarm robot that could carry out the simulation. Hopefully in the future we can secure funding to produce more than just a handful of the robots, to confirm that the simulation worked. And maybe, eventually, come up with a way to sell them.

I will admit, starting a project like this makes me wary. I’ve been burned out by other similar projects in the past (which are still not in their final stages…), and what we’ve decided to make needs to work fully and be use-able by others, something much easier said than done. I want it to succeed however, and am confident that I am able to throw away all other distractions (including social life, woo!) we’ll be able to show off a pretty cool robotic system by the end of this year.

We started by coming up with a simulation…

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