In the summer of 2015 I decided to begin work on a simulator to aid my lab in research on human-swarm interaction (HSI). Swarms represent a different sort of system to simulate than most other types of robotics in that it involves large numbers of independent agents with limited abilities, instead of a single complex robot. Thus, it required a different sort of simulation engine than those commonly used in the scientific literature. I had used previous simulations, from the Stage Robot Simulator to a crude, self-designed Java-based web simulation for previous studies.
The new simulator, however, would make use of GPUs to allow for parallel simulation of each robot during a step in a control loop. In other words, instead of having the CPU cycle through each robot in the swarm to process its next movement, the GPU would process each robot simultaneously, then update their positions and velocities together. The two main reasons for this implementation were (read more…)
In the Summer of 2013 I decided to use some of the money I had saved (plus a nice tax refund!) to build my first custom PC. The first computer I ever build was with my dad over the summer of 2004, but sadly I don’t have any shots of that one. In order to keep it portable–I bring my computer into the lab often–I settled on the Mini-ITX form factor and the Fractal Node 304, which gave a nice compromise of looks, compatibility with the parts I’d chosen, and ease of modding. I knew I wanted to go black and white with an accent color, and because the custom cabling required a shorter GPU, the accent was chosen for me with the Asus 670 Mini (the only option with that form factor and performance available). With the part selected, it was time to build the thing! (read more…)