The team's robot swarm imitates the communication process of bees by wiggling when they find a new hive spot. (Image Credit: arXiv (2023).)
University of Barcelona researchers developed a mini wiggling robot swarm that interacts like scout bees by replicating their communication process like light recognition and motion signals. All 35 of these kilobots are fitted with LED lights, an infrared light receiver/emitter, and three tiny legs to move around and interact.
Scout bees perform a waggle dance after finding a desirable location, like a crevice, home's eave, or knothole, for new hive placements. This dance works as a reference for other bees, indicating the distance/direction of this possible hive and if this area has a food source. And bees that waggle longer and more frequently signal an increased desirability to create a new hive in that location. Other bees then join the dance, which means they arrive at a consensus.
After the team placed the components on each kilobit, they programmed the bots via an altered version of a mathematical model based on scout bees' behavior. They then put 10-35 kilobots inside a circular arena, where they waggled around on their legs. In their experiments, the team instructed the groups of bots to express their "opinion" by flashing the LEDs, starting from red to blue to green, whenever they discovered a perfect hive spot.
Schematics of the kilobits. (Image Credit: arXiv (2023).)
It took approximately thirty minutes for each bot cluster, despite its size and environmental density, to reach a consensus. Even with nine bytes of data transmission at once, these machines could be incredibly practical in many different industries. "Our experiments demonstrate that the kilobot swarm can collectively reach consensus decisions in a decentralized manner, akin to honeybees," Professor M. Carmen Miguel wrote in the paper.
This study could eventually lead to simple robots designed to make decisions in a decentralized, autonomous manner. Mini bots with those capabilities would then communicate with one another while monitoring body abnormalities or disease tissue. They could also be deployed in search and rescue missions too dangerous for humans to undertake. "By shedding light on this crucial layer of complexity, we emphasize the significance of factors typically overlooked but essential to living systems and life itself," wrote Miguel
I couldn't find a video. I know we all want to see one with these... I've contacted out to the researchers. Fingers crossed.
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