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GUARDIANS project

2010. A successful completion of a ground-breaking project the GUARDIANS at the Mobile Machine and Vision Laboratory at Centre for Automation and Robotics Research at Sheffield Hallam University. A swarm of autonomous robots was developed to navigate and search an urban ground. The main example employed an industrial warehouse in smoke. This is a very dangerous situation where toxins can be released and human senses can be severely impaired. The robots warn of toxic chemicals, provide and maintain mobile communication links, infer localisation information and assist in searching. They enhance operational safety and thus indirectly save lives. GUARDIANS was discussed on ‘More 4’ news, featured in Science Museum, and in ‘Security Europe’.

European Union 6th Framework Programme Project No: 045269

Project objective

The GUARDIANS are a swarm of autonomous robots applied to navigate and search an urban ground. The project's central example is an industrial warehouse in smoke, as proposed by the Fire and Rescue Service. The job is time consuming and dangerous; toxics may be released and humans senses can be severely impaired. They get disoriented and may get lost. The robots warn of toxic chemicals, provide and maintain mobile communication links, infer localisation information and assist in searching. They enhance operational safety and speed and thus indirectly save lives.

The robots navigate autonomously and accompany a human squad-leader. They connect to a wireless ad-hoc network and forward data to the squad-leader and the control station. The network is self-organising, adapting to connection failures by modifying its connections from local up to central connections. The autonomous swarm operates in communicative and non-communicative mode. In communicative mode automatic service discovery is applied: the robots find peers to help them.

The wireless network also enables the robots to support a human squad-leader operating within close range. The aim is for flexible and seamless switching between these modes in order to compensate for loss of network signals and to support and safeguard the squad-leader. Several robot platforms are used, off-the-shelf mini-robots as well as middle sized robots. The emphasis in data collection is on toxic plume detection, to enable olfactory-based navigation, allow safe progress for the human squad-leader and to detect plume sources.

The major aim of the project is to develop a swarm of autonomous robots that is able to adequately assist and safeguard a human squad leader. The project organises workshops with end-users (rescue workers and fire-fighters) and the advisory board, to assess the demonstrations and to disseminate research results. The workshops, moreover, aim at exploring additional exploitation of results.

Project organisation and management

Organisation: Wiki discussion site

Coordinating team
  • Project coodinator: Dr Jacques Penders, Sheffield Hallam University
  • Project co-coodinator: Dr Lyuba Alboul, Sheffield Hallam University
  • Project secretary: Dr Rosemary Booth, Sheffield Hallam University
Sheffield Hallam University personnel and expertise
Past members
  • Dr Bala Amavasai, robot swarms and machine vision
  • Dr Rosemary Booth, Project secretary
  • Laurence Ellison, robot swarms
Academic partners
  • Universitat Jaume I de Castellon, Robotic Intelligence Lab, Spain
  • Faculdade Ciencias e Tecnologia Da Universidade de Coimbra, Dep. Eng. Electrotecnica, Portugal
  • TOBB Ekonomi ve Teknoloji Universitesi, Dept. Electrical and Electronics Engineering, Turkey
  • Universitaet Paderborn, Heinz Nixdorf Institute, Germany

Industrial partners

  • K-Team SA, Mobile Robotic Group, Switzerland
  • Robotnik Automation, SLL, Spain
  • South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, Command Headquarters, United Kingdom
  • Space Applications Services, Belgium

In the news

  • 28 July 2009 - Guardians project on 'More 4' news
  • 3 February 2009 - Article on the Guardians project in 'Security Europe'
  • 14 May 2007 - Guardians project featured at the Science Museum, London
  • Ihlas.Net, Turkey, 19 September 2007 - İtfaiyeleri, elektronik burunlu robot koruyacak
  • Haber 3, Turkey, 19 September 2007 - İtfaiyecilere robot koruyucu!
  • Ekspres Gazetesi, Turkey, 19 September 2007 - İtfaiyecilere 'Koruyucu melekler'
  • UrlaX, Turkey, 19 September 2007 - İtfaiyeleri, elektronik burunlu robot koruyacak
  • ComputerZeitung, Germany, 15 May 2007 - Ein eichter Roboter kennt keine Furcht
  • Innovations Report, Germany, 18 January 2007 - Firefighter's guardian angel is a palm size robot
  • Yorkshire Post, UK, 18 January 2007 - Hi-tech miniature robots set to be latest firefighting recruits
  • Science Museum London - Robots to the rescue

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