Posted: May 17, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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joshbyard:

Humanoid Robots Mimic Insect Swarm Behavior to Improve Task Synchronization

Biologists have long puzzled over the ability of bacteria and social insects to sense not only the presence of compatriots but their number and to synchronise their behaviour.

It turns out that these creatures perform this synchronisation using a process called quorum sensing. This works by constantly releasing signalling molecules into the environment while at the same time measuring the local concentration of these molecules. This concentration rises as more creatures join the local population and so is an effective measure of population density.  When the concentration rises over some threshold level, it triggers a different behaviour such cell division, pathogen production and nest building.

Now Bechon and Slotine say a similar approach provides a robust way to synchronise humanoid robots. The ideal approach to synchronisation is for each robot to have access to every other robot’s position. Instead, the quorum sensing approach gives, each robot access to a global variable such as the average position or average clock time. Each robot can also change this variable because it contributes to the average.

The idea is that if each robot attempts to synchronise with this global average, the swarm as whole should keep good time.

(via Humanoid Robot Swarm Synchronised Using Quorum Sensing  – Technology Review)

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