Brainless robots swarm just like animals
Swarming patterns and herding behaviours have been observed throughout the animal kingdom. Scientists and mathematicians have pondered the cause of complex relationships and group dynamics at work that allow schools of fish, such as herring, and flocks of birds, such as starlings, to move together in apparent unity — and now, in an interesting twist to the discussion, a team of engineers from Harvard University has observed apparent collective behaviour in brainless robots.
The robot research team was looking for a way to investigate the transition that swarming groups make from random behaviour into collective motion. In order to observe a randomly moving collective, they built the simplest of “self-propelled automatons”, the charmingly named Bristle-Bot (BBots).