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Swarm robots

Some models are direct copies of natural phenomena. Take these little swarm robots, for example: tiny, simple robots that mimic swarm behaviour, which we see in bees. The mini-robots have been programmed to react to one another and exchange information, in order for them to accomplish an assignment as a group. Scientists use them to carry out complex tasks, e.g. searching for natural disaster survivors. In turn, these robots provide us with deeper insights into swarm behaviour in nature.
  • Maker: Students Prof. Francis Wyffels
  • Date: 2007
  • Collection: History of Sciences
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What advantage do swarm robots offer?

Swarm robots can do tasks that are too complex for humans or a single robot. They can also be deployed in places that are dangerous for humans, such as in fires. What is more, a swarm of robots is more reliable than an individual robot. When there are thousands of small, simple robots it is far less problematic if several – or even a hundred – of them fail.

What are swarm robots?

The relatively new field of swarm robotics emerged in the early 2000s and was inspired by the group behaviour of swarms in nature. Swarm intelligence is based on the collective behaviour of a decentralised, self-organised system. In other words, swarm robotics aims to control large numbers of intelligent robots simultaneously; these robots are capable of organising themselves to do one shared task. The swarm itself is not intelligent.

How do the robots communicate with each other?

The robots are programmed to react to each other and coordinate things with each other so that they can complete a mission together. There are swarm robots that can communicate via Bluetooth, ultra-wideband radio technology or infrared signals.

Why is research being done into swarm robots?

Swarm robots enable us to imitate the behaviour of natural swarms, such as the foraging behaviour of bees, and try to understand it. Furthermore, swarm behaviour algorithms often lead to robust, scalable systems that can be deployed flexibly to do complex tasks that would otherwise require a very expensive robot.

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