This morning I did an interview with Dave Bronstetter, one of the great Canadian radio broadcasters, and a familiar voice to Montrealers. The interview aired live on the radio show All in a Weekend on the Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC) station Radio One. The interview was quite pleasant and relaxed, and a marked change from the very first radio or TV spots I did a long time ago when I was very nervous.
We discussed the work in my lab on multi-robot mapping using a team of heterogeneous robots, some of which can swim underwater, some that can fly and a robot boat. While we have been working on multi-robot systems from over a decade, it is only recently that we have gotten into outdoor experiments with such a diverse set of different systems. By combining both swimming and flying, we gain a tremendous ability to map and understand a region of the shoreline.
I may have goofed a bit in understating the number of other groups working on multi-robot systems: there are lots. Before in the pre-interview we had discussed the number of groups using technologies like ours, which is small, and this is what I was thinking about during the interview.
One of the particular pleasures of the interview stemmed from the fact that Dave Bronstetter had interviewed my father many times, and remembered him well. We had a chance to talk about him a bit before and after the on-air segment. In addition, Dave's voice and manner was very familiar since I have listened to him on various shows over a long span of years. He's also served as television anchor man and host of the popular and long-running radio show Daybreak, and I think I may have spoken to him then.
You can listen to the MP3 recording here, or use one of the embedded players below.
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I have been interested in multi-robot collaboration for several years, and have worked on it with various students. Some of the key themes have been: using multiple robots to help one another figuring out where they are by having them observe one another (the PhD work of Ioannis Rekleitis on collaborative localization), allowing robots to find one another even though they know nothing about the environment and cannot communicate (the MSc work of Nicholas Roy on rendezvous and "what to do when you're lost at the zoo"), and various problems on multi-robot search. Papers on some of this can be found at our lab's publications page at http://www.cim.mcgill.ca/~mrl