We all know that the LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT and ROBOTC are a powerful combination. Together they are able to perform advanced tasks such as PID auto-straightening, line tracking, and even thermal imaging. Imagine what would be possible if multiple NXT’s could work together! Two heads are better than one, right?
Multi-robot communication is possible and it has already been implemented using ROBOTC. During a recent ROBOTC training session, the final day and a half focused on learning how to make use of the XBee wireless radio for communication between multiple robots.
The NXT is able to send and receive messages over a wireless network in the form of string-type data. There are a few simple commands added to ROBOTC with the “XBeeTools.h” header file. The commands are quite user friendly even though multi-robot communication is typically a graduate level concept.
Multi-robot communication is an advanced topic that users can explore after mastering a single robot. It is important to understand how to program a single robot. However, the future of robotics centers on robots working in teams to accomplish complex tasks. Areas of exploration include team based sports such as soccer and putting autonomous vehicles on our roads.
Check out the video of the challenge given in ROBOTC training, where six NXT robots cooperate to surround a single robot which broadcasts its position to the rest of the group.