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Future Robot Swarms Should Copy Lazy Ants Who Let Others Do the Work

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Ants at work.

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology say their insights into ant cooperation could improve the cooperation and coordination of large swarms of robots.

Credit: Grant Heilman Photography/Alamy

Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) researchers found insights into ant cooperation could be incorporated into the development of large swarms of robots.

The team first placed 30 ants into a container filled with glass soil-like particles, and observed only 30% of the ants performed the majority of the tunneling.

They then tested similar strategies with four excavation robots, only to find that a four-robot team kept causing congestion unless at least one robot remained idle.

Georgia Tech's Daniel Goldman says the implication is that when groups of individuals cooperate, the best strategy may be for some to hang back. This knowledge might help inform the design of software for controlling robot swarms.

Goldman aims to apply ant behavior dynamics to the coordination of large robot swarms in confined spaces.

From New Scientist
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