Swarm Intelligence and Stigmergy: Robotic Implementation of Foraging Behavior (Mechanical Project)

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Swarm intelligence in multi-robot systems has become an important area of research within collective robotics. Researchers have gained inspiration from biological systems and proposed a variety of industrial, commercial, and military robotics applications.

In order to bridge the gap between theory and application, a strong focus is required on robotic implementation of swarm intelligence. To date, theoretical research and computer simulations in the field have dominated, with few successful demonstrations of swarm-intelligent robotic systems.

In this project, a study of intelligent foraging behavior via indirect communication between simple individual agents is presented. Models of foraging are reviewed and analyzed with respect to the system dynamics and dependence on important parameters. Computer simulations are also conducted to gain an understanding of foraging behavior in systems with large populations.

Finally, a novel robotic implementation is presented. The experiment successfully demonstrates cooperative group foraging behavior without direct communication. Trail-laying and trail-following are employed to produce the required stigmergic cooperation. Real robots are shown to achieve increased task efficiency, as a group, resulting from indirect interactions. Experimental results also confirm that trail-based group foraging systems can adapt to dynamic environments.
Source: University of Maryland
Author: Edelen, Mark Russell

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