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Front. Robot. AI | doi: 10.3389/frobt.2018.00011

A Two Teraflop Swarm

  • 1University of Bristol, United Kingdom
  • 2University of the West of England, United Kingdom

We introduce the Xpuck swarm, a research platform with an aggregate raw processing power in
excess of two teraflops. The swarm uses 16 e-puck robots augmented with custom hardware that
uses the substantial CPU and GPU processing power available from modern mobile system-on-
chip devices. The augmented robots, called Xpucks, have at least an order of magnitude greater
performance than previous swarm robotics platforms. The platform enables new experiments that
require high individual robot computation and multiple robots. Uses include online evolution or
learning of swarm controllers, simulation for answering what-if questions about possible actions,
distributed super-computing for mobile platforms, and real-world applications of swarm robotics
that requires image processing, or SLAM. The teraflop swarm could also be used to explore
swarming in nature by providing platforms with similar computational power as simple insects.
We demonstrate the computational capability of the swarm by implementing a fast physics-based
robot simulator and using this within a distributed island model evolutionary system, all hosted on
the Xpucks.

Keywords: swarm robotics, Robot hardware, simulation, Evolutionary Robotics, behaviour trees, distributed evolutionary algorithm, GPGPU, embodied reality modelling

Received: 30 Oct 2017; Accepted: 25 Jan 2018.

Edited by:

Vito Trianni, Istituto di Scienze e Tecnologie della Cognizione (ISTC) - CNR, Italy

Reviewed by:

Anders L. Christensen, University Institute of Lisbon, Portugal
Nicolas Bredeche, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, France  

Copyright: © 2018 Jones, Studley, Hauert and Winfield. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Mr. Simon Jones, University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom, simon.jones@brl.ac.uk