Picture of The SOMA Project
The SOMA Project was a senior design project created by six university students who love spending all night in lab building robots. A fully-autonomous swarm was designed and built to be used as a platform for future swarm applications. Four fully autonomous robots were constructed, each capable of maintaining the relative and absolute positions of every other robot within its field of vision. In addition to tracking each others' relative positions, the robots sense and record the positions of obstacles, and share this information throughout the swarm. A dynamic map is maintained by each robot and transmitted to a passive monitoring station, where the map can be viewed in real time. This Instructable covers how the four robots built for this purpose were made. Specificallly, it details how the iRobot Create was used as a base for this project and how the rest of the system was built atop it.

There have been many attempts to create a robotic swarm, however, before the SOMA Project, creating an inexpensive and scalable full-featured swarm had not yet been achieved. Each of the robots we made costs less than one thousand dollars, has space for hardware expansion, and is designed for scalability. The minimum functionality of the swarm we set out to make was to build a map of obstacles in an environment and position themselves in a map. The ability for each robot to know where it has been and know where its going allows for further study in mobile and ad-hoc networking, complex searching algorithms, and search and rescue applications.

The Warning:
This project is quite complicated, so it should only be attempted if you are already familiar with assembling and debugging electronics. You will need access to a full computer engineering lab with all standard assembly and test equipment as well as substantial mechanical equipment: a machine shop and a laser cutter. Since this is a difficult project, it will be assumed that the reader is experienced working with electronics and machining equipment. As much detail as possible will be covered, but the very basics, like how to solder and how to keep all your fingers when working with a laser cutter and lathe, will not be covered in this Instructable.

We hope that anyone who attempts to build these robots has as much fun as we did.

-The SOMA Team

More information is located at http://www.thesomaproject.net
WOW! Amazing!, Do you continue this work? Is there more documentation about this project? (The web page is broken :( ) Actually, I'm working with mobile robotics, and I'm starting to research in this field of swarm robots

Greetings from Colombia! :D
Timmers2 years ago
Have you seen this, pretty cool creation.

The_Warlock3 years ago
S01dier903 years ago
I love how yall decided to name them all after science fiction writers. More notably science fiction writers who wrote about robotics. Nice job. I was wondering if you have any suggestions on building an artificial hive mind?
Okay, I'd just never seen that one before, having only seen them given to two significant figures! My 38kHz one would probably pick up a 36.7kHz wave at pretty much the same distance, going by the inaccuracy of my timer circuit (manually adjusted 555)
36.7kHz? A strange modulation wavelength… How sensitive to other wavelengths are the receivers? On my IR obstacle detecting robot, the tolerance is quite high.
Hi Barnaby,

36.7kHz is the frequency for the receiver part. It's also one of the common frequencies used in tv and other electronics remotes (which is why you can find detectors in that frequency). The spec sheet for the receiver should give you details about frequency vs signal loss.

Omni DIY5 years ago
This is really awesome! I don't think I could do this with my current knowledge, but it does give me an idea. I'll start with one robot (hopefully), and add smaller stationary node 'bots' that i place strategically. They can send info to my original bot about movement in other rooms. I dunno... maybe.
MrMystery965 years ago
I have but one word sir(s). Damn.
Ninja15075 years ago
Amazing... nice work all of you
btop8 years ago
Wow, you guys must have worked really hard on these and the finished product looks great! Nice job!
thesomaproject (author)  btop8 years ago
Thanks! We are all very proud of what we were able to accomplish and hope that swarm theory and research can benefit from our efforts.
Yes, thanks btop! Also if you have any questions feel free to message us anytime!
btop rpasetes8 years ago
Video? Would be good to see them working.
thesomaproject (author)  btop8 years ago
There is a video on step 20 of our instructable.
Wow, this is really great! Ive thought about using an irobot base, but i dont have the money to fund more than what im planning on doing or i would :/
Plasmana6 years ago
Wow, looks like you guys had really worked hard for this project, amazing work! 5 stars!
Oh, Man, They're making me jealous, I wish i had more money so I could build some Instructable rated 5 stars, Great work!
And favorite and subscribed......
TheInventor7 years ago
GREAT JOB!!! when I get better with electronics and have more money(saw the price list on the last picture) I'll make a couple. +1 Added to favorites
Mr. Rig It7 years ago
Very professional, looks like all that hard work has paid off. Good job.
thesomaproject (author)  Mr. Rig It7 years ago
Thanks! It was a lot of work, but the result was well worth it.