Autonomous pods learn to swarm together

Posted on 26 Feb 2020 and read 681 times
Autonomous pods learn to swarm togetherAutonomous pods manufactured by Coventry-based Aurrigo (www.aurrigo.com) can now ‘swarm’ together in a world first, thanks to a collaboration with Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) at the University of Warwick and Milton Keynes Council.

The pods were trialled at the University of Warwick, where they demonstrated how they can help each other to navigate through pedestrian areas around people.

The concept of swarming pods was well received by the public, with the ultimate idea of using an app to hail a pod (or a platoon of pods if travelling in a group) seen as the next evolution of personal and public transport.

They are designed for pedestrian areas and shared spaces, so public transport can be used on highways and the pods can be used as a “first and last mile service”.

Researchers at WMG gave the pods swarming skills typically used by birds and insects. The successful demonstration means that pods can now schedule themselves to form a ‘platoon’ — following each other when possible — to minimise the number of individual vehicle movements and the need for a supervisor per pod.

In the future, it is envisaged that a supervisor can watch several pods and report any unexpected behaviour.

The technology also enables the pods to optimise their behaviour to meet demand by distributing themselves within a city to the areas where they are most likely to be requested.

Roger Woodman, WMG associate professor in human factors, said: “The SWARM algorithm is proven to be effective and reliable.

“The ability to make pods ‘swarm’ together — like a group of bees or birds — means that they can co-ordinate with each other, bringing them one step closer to our streets.”

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