Synchronizing Humanoid Robot Swarms

Humanoid robots are being taught to synchronize their movements by MIT researchers who are learning from insects and bacteria. The key - quorum sensing.


(Synchronized humanoid robots at MIT)

[R]oboticists have been searching for a better form of synchronisation that is more robust to the various trials and tribulations that befall robotic dancers. Today, Patrick Bechon and Jean-Jacques Slotine at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, reveal a new approach based on the biological phenomenon of quorum sensing.

Biologists have long puzzled over the ability of bacteria and social insects to sense not only the presence of compatriots but their number and to synchronise their behaviour.

It turns out that these creatures perform this synchronisation using a process called quorum sensing. This works by constantly releasing signalling molecules into the environment while at the same time measuring the local concentration of these molecules.

This concentration rises as more creatures join the local population and so is an effective measure of population density. When the concentration rises over some threshold level, it triggers a different behaviour such cell division, pathogen production and nest building.

Now Bechon and Slotine say a similar approach provides a robust way to synchronise humanoid robots. The ideal approach to synchronisation is for each robot to have access to every other robot's position. Instead, the quorum sensing approach gives, each robot access to a global variable such as the average position or average clock time. Each robot can also change this variable because it contributes to the average.

The multiple robot team in Isaac Asimov's 1944 story Catch That Rabbit were also able to synchronize their movements, taking their lead from the leader robot, Dave:

There was a marching formation now, and in their own dim body light, the rough-hewn walls of the mine tunnel swam past noiselessly, checkered with misty erratic blobs of shadow. They marched in unison, seven of them, with Dave at the head. They wheeled and turned in macabre simultaneity; and melted through changes of formation with the weird ease of chorus dancers in Lunar Bowl...

Via MIT's Technology Review.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 5/19/2012)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Robotics ")

HEXA Robotic Help For Plants
Then some unknown race had chanced upon the dreamers and decided to "help them out." - Vernor Vinge, 1992.

DIY Robot Shoots You In The Face
'...there were automatic guns that fired ligamine darts.' - Michael Crichton, 1969.

Qoobo Headless Robotic Therapy Cat Was Anne McCaffrey's Idea
'...used as surrogates in intense dependency cases.' - Anne McCaffrey, 1990.

PUFFER Robots - From Philip K DIck's Second Variety?
'Across the ground something small and metallic came, flashing in the dull sunlight of midday.' - Philip K. Dick, 1953.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

BabyX AI Real Enough For You
'...what's to keep me from showing face, Man? I'm showing a voice this instant... I can show a face the same way.'

We Could Downgrade Puerto Rico - And Thereby Save It
'It was cheaper to pay the refugees to go without up-to-the-minute equipment.'

Pegasus, Nvidia Supercomputer For Autonomous Driving
'...a 2045 convertible with a Hennis-Carleton positronic motor and an Armat chassis.'

Loihi Chip Mimics Human Brain's Neurons And Synapses
'You can hook a Thorsen tube into a control circuit... and the tube will "remember" what was done and can direct the operation...'

Self-Assembling Bacteria Build A Pressure Sensor
Nature is a master of fabricating structured materials consisting of living and non-living components.

3D Printed Artificial Muscles Are Stronger Than Yours
Bots don't need to work out.

Fog Computing (AKA Edge Computing) Ad Hoc Networks
'The tiny devices chirped their impulse codes at one another...'

Dubai Scorpion Police Hoverbike Ready To Pull Young Kirk Over
'Is there a problem, officer?'

HEXA Robotic Help For Plants
Then some unknown race had chanced upon the dreamers and decided to "help them out."

Korean Tesla Model S Video 'Excelsior' Is Indeed Our Motto
'Improving man by bringing him close to Nature, while they combine the sensations of coasting with the interest of seeing the country well...'

DIY Robot Shoots You In The Face
'...there were automatic guns that fired ligamine darts.'

A Bayesian Approach to Safe Imitation Learning For AIs and Robots
Um, how about that pension for the humans who serve as the models for robot behavior?

Qoobo Headless Robotic Therapy Cat Was Anne McCaffrey's Idea
'...used as surrogates in intense dependency cases.'

Autonomous Cars Talk To Each Other At MCity
'My cars talk to one another.'

PUFFER Robots - From Philip K DIck's Second Variety?
'Across the ground something small and metallic came, flashing in the dull sunlight of midday.'

Russian Space Garden
'We saw the gardens, flooded with artificial sunlight...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.