• A group of MIT researchers were nominated for two best-paper awards for a new algorithm that can significantly reduce robot teams’ planning time. The plan the algorithm produces may not be perfectly efficient, but in many cases, the savings in planning time will more than offset the added execution time.
  • The problem the researchers address is one in which a group of robots must perform an assembly operation that has a series of discrete steps, some of which require multirobot collaboration. At the outset, none of the robots knows which parts of the operation it will be assigned: Everything’s determined on the fly.
  • The key to the researchers’ algorithm is that it defers its most difficult decisions about grasp position until it’s made all the easier ones. That way, it can be interrupted at any time, and it will still have a workable assembly plan. If it hasn’t had time to compute the optimal solution, the robots may on occasion have to drop and regrasp the objects they’re holding.

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