The Collective Cognitive Robots — or CoCoRo — are a group of 40 mini-submarine robots that can work together to perform complex tasks. They are based on the concept of “swarm robotics”, which suggests that a group of simple little robots are able to carry out complex tasks at much lower costs than a single, advanced robot.
The CoCoRo project has received funding of 3 million euros over a period of three years. A total of five European universities have been involved with each institution carrying out different tasks, but the actual building of the robots was carried out by the Tuscan institute, which is at the forefront of robotics studies.
The CoCoRo project is a major step forward in the field of swarm robotics for several reasons. First, it is the largest robotic swarm ever made. In the past, the study of the marine ecosystem was based on single UAV’s which are very expensive. Today, through 3D printing, more efficient small robots can be built at much lower costs.
To perform tasks each robot is equipped with sensors that help it navigate and perceive their surroundings moving in three dimensions thanks to a system of propellers and an artificial swim bladder that regulates its buoyancy. To effectively communicate with other robots each member of CoCoRo is equipped with three communication systems. The first is based on the propagation of sound; the second is based on a system of blue LED lights. The third approach is the most bioinspired, as it simulates the bioelectric field that some types of fish use to communicate with each other.
Much like 3D printing, and thanks to 3D printing, robotics is evolving at an incredible pace.