The UCLA Commotion (Cooperative Motion) Laboratory seeks new theories of cooperative task-solving, grounded in the field of robotics. One major goal of this research is to field colonies of robots at remote locations. These robots will be used to collect data, perform experiments, etc. They will be used by a wide variety of people including scientists, engineers, educators, and students.
We have identified several key problems that must be addressed. Among these are: communication between the experimenter and the remote colony, the remote tasking of robots, and the effective presentation of information to the user.
To address these problems, we have put together a robotic resource that will be made available to qualified users on the Internet within the next several months. Our resource consists of ten R3 research robots from IS Robotics, Inc., with added network connections, and is not currently duplicated anywhere in the world. We would enjoy sharing this infrastructure resource with other researchers and educators. In return, we expect to improve our understanding of how such resources can be shared and tasked.
We feel that the existing information superhighway infrastructure provides an ideal backbone for this project. While the information superhighway has demonstrated its use in the interactive sharing of information, our plan will add new capability by allowing control of and communication with physical, taskable resources. This technology will be enabling for such diverse purposes as: remote scientific investigation, continued widespread availability and affordability of scientific equipment, development of more rigorous standards for scientific discourse in highly experimental engineering disciplines, and Internet-based K-12 and undergraduate education. To help explain these visions for the future we describe three core ideas: taskable machines, colonies of taskable machines, and remote science.