University at Buffalo researchers have developed a system that allows autonomous robots to behave like beavers, termites, and other creatures that build structures in response to environmental cues.
The new system will direct a robot to continuously monitor and modify its terrain to make it more mobile, similar to how a beaver reacts to flowing water by building a dam.
Given the difficulty of developing algorithms to direct autonomous robots in unpredictable, complex spaces, the researchers based their algorithm on stigmergy, a biological phenomenon based on a type of indirect coordination.
The researchers tested an autonomous rover using the new algorithm by equipping it with a camera, customized software, and a robotic arm to lift and deposit objects. They then created rough terrain to simulate a natural environment, and placed bean bags of different sizes around the area. In 10 tests, the robot moved anywhere from 33 to 170 bags, each time creating a ramp to reach its target destination.
From University at Buffalo News Center
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