AAO Starbugs: software control and associated algorithms

Nuria P. F. Lorente, Minh V. Vuong, Keith Shortridge, Tony J. Farrell, Scott Smedley, Sungwook E. Hong, Carlos Bacigalupo, Michael Goodwin, Kyler Kuehn, Christophe Satorre

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The Australian Astronomical Observatory's TAIPAN instrument deploys 150 Starbug robots to position optical fibres to accuracies of 0.3 arcsec, on a 32 cm glass field plate on the focal plane of the 1.2 m UK-Schmidt telescope. This paper describes the software system developed to control and monitor the Starbugs, with particular emphasis on the automated path-finding algorithms, and the metrology software which keeps track of the position and motion of individual Starbugs as they independently move in a crowded field. The software employs a tiered approach to find a collision-free path for every Starbug, from its current position to its target location. This consists of three path-finding stages of increasing complexity and computational cost. For each Starbug a path is attempted using a simple method. If unsuccessful, subsequently more complex (and expensive) methods are tried until a valid path is found or the target is flagged as unreachable.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSoftware and cyberinfrastructure for astronomy IV
EditorsGianluca Chiozzi, Juan C. Guzman
Place of PublicationWashington, WA
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781510602069
ISBN (Print)9781510602052
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes
EventSoftware and Cyberinfrastructure for Astronomy IV - Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 26 Jun 201630 Jun 2016

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE
ISSN (Electronic)0277-786X


OtherSoftware and Cyberinfrastructure for Astronomy IV
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • Control software
  • Fibre positioning systems
  • Path-finding algorithms
  • Starbugs


Dive into the research topics of 'AAO Starbugs: software control and associated algorithms'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this