Protocol Labs Research
2015-05-26 / Conference paper
A distributed formation-based odor source localization algorithm – design, implementation, and wind tunnel evaluation
2015 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) / 2015.05.26 / Seattle, WA, USA
Jorge M. Soares , A. Pedro Aguiar, António M. Pascoal, Alcherio Martinoli


Robotic odor source localization is a promising tool with numerous applications in safety, search and rescue, and environmental science. In this paper, we present an algorithm for odor source localization using multiple cooperating robots equipped with chemical sensors. Laplacian feedback is employed to maintain the robots in a formation, introducing spatial diversity that is used to better establish the position of the flock relative to the plume and its source. Robots primarily move upwind but use odor information to adjust their position and spacing so that they are centered on the plume and trace its structure. Real-world experiments were performed with an ethanol plume inside a wind tunnel, and used to both validate the algorithm and assess the impact of different formation shapes.