FreeBot: a Battery-Free Swarm Robotics Platform.

Liu, M., Yang, F., Michiels, S., Alvarado-Marin, S., Watteyne, T. (2023, November) 

In 2023 ACM Conference on Embedded Networked Sensor Systems (SenSys), Istanbul, Turkey, November 13-15.

Abstract: A growing range of networked embedded devices are moving away from batteries and towards super-capacitor charge storage in combination with energy harvesting. However, this approach has yet to be applied to mobile robots, which remain dependent upon batteries with slow recharge cycles and limited lifetimes. In this demonstration paper, we introduce the first battery-free platform for swarm robotics; FreeBot; which delivers 20 minutes of autonomous operation, full recharge cycles of under 5 seconds and rapid peer-to-peer charge transfer between FreeBots in the field. FreeBot is controlled by an nRF 52840 Cortex M4F equipped with BLE/ANT/802.15.4 transceiver. Notably, while the autonomy of FreeBots may be limited in comparison to battery-powered robots, their operational vs charging duty-cycle is significantly higher at over 99% due to orders of magnitude faster charging times.