**Reconfigurable Teams**

In this work, I am interested in using the power of self-reconfigurable robots to divide and spawn new independent robots during task execution. Essentially, this can be thought of as an extension to multi-robot task allocation, in which the number of robots and their capabilities is no longer fixed. The question of how to optimize robot actions, especially in a distributed context (both modules within connected groups and groups within an overall system) is a challenging one with many possible answers. Our first foray into this arena was with a purely reactive algorithm for reaching given goal locations in an unknown environment (see our DARS paper). Currently we are looking into optimal tours in known environments (sort of akin to k-TSP), developing reactive sensor placement algorithms, and applying various multi-robot auction algorithms to such systems.**Efficient locomotion algorithms**(with R. Fitch, Australian Center for Field Robotics)

The reconfigurable teams work assumes that each group of modules can move about its environment as needed, and various groups have developed algorithms for different systems to allow these capabilities. In our latest contribution to that part of the field, we are developing simple decentralized algorithms that can perform locomotion of a group over arbitrary terrain. The focus of this work is on minimizing the computation and memory requirements for large (e.g. 1 million module) systems. See our ICRA paper. We represent the problem as a Markov Decision Process in which the local values of the MDP are kept locally within each module, i.e. a constant amount of memory per module. Updates are performed via message passing among the modules, and each module can query local MDP values to determine its best move. Accompanying this is a novel motion coordination algorithm that ensures modules can move safely while keeping coordination messages to a minimum. We are currently working on extending this technique to other types of actuation in the hope of implementing it on hardware, and eventually integrating it with the reconfigurable teams work to show a complete (simulated) system performing a set of tasks in parallel.**Hierarchical simulations**My latest area of interest ties in both of the preceding bullets - producing algorithms and simulations that handle the inter-module decisions and inter-blob decisions simultaneously. I am especially interested in creating simulations that run efficiently over a cluster, so if you are similarly interested, please get in touch!

zjb-AT-cs-DOT-rit-DOT-edu