NASA Swarmathon competition
Fayetteville State University (FSU) is pleased to announce that it has been chosen to compete in the first NASA Swarmathon Physical Competition. The competition, which is designed to enhance STEM education in universities and also help NASA develop the next generation of robots, will be held for the next three years with possible continuation. Each year the competing teams will develop advanced algorithms for the control of swarm robots and submit these algorithms to NASA for testing and ranking. This last phase will be held each year in the Kennedy Space Center where teams will converge for a week in April.
The FSU team, which was competitively selected based on a proposal, will be given Swarmie robots by January 2016. Swarmies are small robotic vehicles equipped with sensors, a webcam, GPS system, and Wi-Fi antenna. They operate autonomously and can be programmed to communicate and interact as a collective swarm. Robotic swarms are more robust, flexible and scalable than large single robots which operate alone. NASA is interested in this technology since it can be more effective in searching for resources on extraplanetary surfaces like Moon, Mars, and asteroids where materials such as ice, rocks, minerals and construction materials will be needed in the future to build human shelters. Swarm robotics technology is still in its infancy, and it is an active topic of research which includes development of algorithms, computational techniques for search, learning and data aggregation.
Dr. Sambit Bhattacharya of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science is the key personnel from FSU in the NASA Swarmathon Physical Competition. He is creating the Swarmathon student team from students enrolled in his Artificial Intelligence class. The competition will enhance opportunities for hands-on learning for FSU students.