Periodic Reporting for period 1 - CyBioSys (An affordable Cyber Biological System combining swarming biosensors and robotics)
Reporting period: 2016-09-01 to 2018-08-31
During the project, we identified the variation of the flow of workers at the entrance of the nest as a clear signal associated by the discovery of a food source by the ants. Then, we developed a device to monitor the behaviour of the ants and autonomously detect this signal. In parallel, we developed a mobile robot able to navigate in the presence of the ants and able to pick up a food source in the environment. Finally, we designed a binary choice experiment in which the ants had to discover and select the best food source available in the environment and the robot had to bring back the food source that has been selected by the ants. Thus, these results provide evidence for the possibility to transfer information from natural agents to artificial ones efficiently and the ability of artificial systems to facilitate the collective exploitation of environmental resources by animals.
Identification of a signal associated with food discovery by ants: the flow of ingoing and outgoing ants at the nest entrance has been identified as a reliable indicator of the absence (low activity) or presence (high activity) of a food source in the environment.
WP2 Conception of the artificial components
Development of a mobile robot and a device to monitor the ants: we developed a sensor that tracks the motion of the ants in front of the nest entrance to detect an increase of activity. The number of moving pixels cumulated over 5-minute periods has been shown to be a reliable proxy to estimate the flow of ants. In parallel, we developed a mobile robot able to navigate in the presence of the ants and to follow them until it reaches the food source selected by the colony.
WP3 Experimentation with Cyber Biological Systems
Successful experiments with a mixed society of ants and artificial agents: we successfully combined the abilities of the natural and artificial agents to formed an efficient mixed society of ants and robots. This mixed group had to exploit the best resource available in the environment. To do so, the artificial system benefited from the ability of the ants to discovered and select the best resource in the environment while the ants benefited from the ability of the robot to convey the resource closer to the nest.
WP4 (M1 – M24) Management, dissemination & training
Dissemination of the results and Training of the ER: the results have been presented at five international scientific conferences and two science fairs. The ER has been interviewed by a national swiss radio as well as two journalists working for web magazine. A manuscript is currently in preparation to be submitted to a high impact factor journal. Along the project, the ER has been trained to numerous methods and techniques used in engineering (e. g. CAD software, computer vision or robotics).