Quorum sensing in robots
For several years, roboticists have been working out ways to get a group of robots to perform synchronized activities as demonstrated most often in dance routines. It’s not just about trying to create humanoid machines that can better entertain us though, it’s about getting them to perform simple small scale synchronized activities so that a means can be found to scale up such activities so that robots of the future can work together to autonomously accomplish certain goals that have been defined by their human masters. To that end, MIT researchers Patrick Bechon and Jean-Jacques Slotine have been studying ways to mimic so called quorum sensing, which some organisms use to figure out how many of their own kind are around, and then to perform actions based on it. The two have applied this principal to small dancing robots, to stunning effect. They have written a paper describing what they have learned and posted it on the preprint server arXiv.
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