Robot ants successfully mimic real colony behavior

Robotic ants have replicated the movement of individual ants from their nests to different food sources. Researchers at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and the Research Center on Animal Cognition used a swarm of sugar cube-sized robots that could leave light trails for detection, with two light sensors mimicking the role of the ants’ antennae. The research focused primarily on how Argentine ants, when part of a colony, behave and coordinate themselves in both symmetrical and asymmetrical labyrinthine pathways. In nature, ants leave chemical pheromone trails. The researchers’ model revealed that the robots did not need to be programmed to identify and compute the geometry of the network bifurcations. “This research suggests that efficient navigation and foraging can be achieved with minimal cognitive abilities in ants,” says lead author Simon Garnier. “It also shows that the geometry of transport networks plays a critical role in the flow of information and material in ant as well as in human societies.”

More info: EurekAlert (03/28/13)

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