Multirobot systems for EMF monitoring

Environmental monitoring requires distributed systems able to detect phenomena reliably and to produce detailed environmental assessments. The use of robotic sensor networks in which nodes are mobile robots carrying sensors around the environment represents a valuable solution.

In this research we developed a multirobot system that localizes and characterizes low-frequency Electro-Magnetic Field (EMF) sources. The monitoring of these EMF phenomena is extremely important in practice, especially to guarantee the safety of people living and working in places with power lines, motors, and other equipments. It is thus important to localize and characterize the EMF sources in an environment to assure that the EMF levels are compliant with the current legislation.

Our multirobot system is hierarchical. A coordinator (a computer) supervises the activities of the system, while a number of explorers (mobile robots equipped with EMF sensors) navigate in the environment and perform measurement tasks. Our multirobot system uses a global centralized approach to deploy the perceptive robots in the environment: the explorers move in the positions that the coordinator globally evaluates as interesting. This contrasts with usual approaches that use a local criterion to decide the spatial configuration of the nodes: each node adjusts its position according to those of its neighbors, for example using optimization algorithms based on potential fields.

This research has been part of the APE Project funded by the MIUR (Italian University and Research Ministry).

People involved

Francesco Amigoni
Vincenzo Caglioti
Giulio Fontana

Some experiments

Localizing a static simulated EMF source with two robots: http://home.dei.polimi.it/amigoni/EMFMOROAgency/te.mpg
Localizing a moving simulated EMF source with one robot: http://home.dei.polimi.it/amigoni/EMFMOROAgency/oems.mpg
Localizing a moving simulated EMF source with two robots: http://home.dei.polimi.it/amigoni/EMFMOROAgency/tems.mpg
Localizing a static real EMF source with one robot: http://home.dei.polimi.it/amigoni/EMFMOROAgency/oer.wmv
Localizing a static real EMF source with two robots: http://home.dei.polimi.it/amigoni/EMFMOROAgency/ter.wmv

Some relevant publications