Partnering opportunity

Cleaning robot swarm

Summary

A German university developed a navigation method for cleaning robots. The robots in the swarm divide the space between each other which makes the cleaning efficient and with low multiple coverage. The university offers a license and a technical cooperation agreement.

Partner sought

The university offers a license agreement as well as a technical cooperation agreement. Potential partners are those who are interested in further development to market readiness, e.g. manufacturers of autonomous mobile household robots. In a technical cooperation, the partner would provide specifications. Depending on these requirements, the university offers technical development. In addition to the technical cooperation, licenses for the invention and intellectual property rights can be granted.

Description

Particularly in the commercial sector (e.g. hotels, offices, retirement homes, hospitals), but also in the private sector, it is desirable that floor cleaning by robots is completed in the shortest possible time (noise, accessibility). For this purpose a German university developed an intelligent, image-based navigation method. Several cleaning robots in the swarm divide the space between each other during the cleaning process. The method uses inexpensive camera sensors with panoramic optics for navigation. It is scalable to any number of robots (even for one robot only), robust against single robot failure and flexible when adding or removing robots. The cleaning is efficient and with low multiple coverage. The method is based on a number of simple principles, which makes it easy to control the complexity of the control software. Since the swarm robots jointly create a “topological“ map without position information, they do not have to agree on a common coordinate system. The division of the clearance is self- organized by an advanced form of simple “obstacle tracking“ in which each robot drives snugly to real obstacles or to track sections previously driven by any of the robots. With this ride strategy, the lanes adapt perfectly to the spatial conditions, guaranteeing seamless cleaning with low multiple coverage. The robots communicate only indirectly with each other through the common map construction; a complex planning and coordination with each other is not necessary. A protocol for the exchange of map data via WLAN was developed. The university offers a license agreement as well as a technology cooperation agreement. Potential partners are those who are interested in further development to market readiness. In addition to technological cooperation, licenses for the invention and intellectual property rights can be granted.

Advantages and innovations

The innovation of this method consists in the special way of creating maps and navigating each individual robot in interaction with the robot swarm. The robots are more reliable and accurate with this method. Further advanages of this invention are: - it can be used for any number of robots - robust and flexible process - controllable software complexity - inexpensive camera sensors

Development stage

Field tested/evaluated

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)

Patents granted


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