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

Step 1: Assembling the Team

This first step, though technically optional, is highly recommended. A project like this always goes a little easier when you've got good company and someone else to help you yell at the robots when they're misbehaving. Your players may be different and your lab may be cleaner, but you'll probably need a group like this. This is the story of the SOMA Project Team.

A long time ago, in a computer engineering lab far, far away, six computer engineers banded together to tackle what we were told was the impossible: a robot swarm. In January of the year 2007, each eventual teammate surfaced from the depths of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering atop the UC Santa Cruz campus, each bringing a crucial skill to what would become the SOMA Project. John and Erik brought the crazy, but two very different kinds: John the slow and methodical crazy that results in tiny 0402 components scattered across a board that would be soldered by hand, and Erik the instant-crazy that makes circuit boards round and espresso machines tremble. Thom came next, better than the CS kids in front of a keyboard and faster than the autoset button on an oscilloscope. Sean arrived, everyone's source of neverending entertainment and the only one brave enough take on the RF communication--of whatever project we would come to choose. Andrew, the SolidWorks pro and lover of laser-cut acrylic fumes, agreed to model, remodel, and cut whatever it would take to make some robots. Finally: Rachel... the fearless leader, with more crazy than John and Erik combined, braver than Sean, and the only engineer in the entire school that would agree to be the team leader of this unruly bunch. They knew they wanted to do something with robotics, but didn't know exactly what their goal would be, or just how many robots they were going to make... After whiteboards had been filled with scribbles, sketches, and countless question marks, the team decided on making a Swarm of Mapping Automatons, and the SOMA Project was born.
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 <br> <br>Greetings from Colombia! :D
Have you seen this, pretty cool creation. <br> <br>http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/567971283/iroo?ref=live
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&hellip; How sensitive to other wavelengths are the receivers? On my IR obstacle detecting robot, the tolerance is quite high.
Hi Barnaby,<br><br>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.<br><br>Cheers.
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.
I have but one word sir(s). Damn.
Amazing... nice work all of you<br />
Wow, you guys must have worked really hard on these and the finished product looks great! Nice job!
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!
Video? Would be good to see them working.
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 :/
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......
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
Very professional, looks like all that hard work has paid off. Good job.
Thanks! It was a lot of work, but the result was well worth it.

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