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Swarms of self-assembling artefacts

Objective

The SWARM-BOTS project is about the design and implementation of self-organising and self-assembling artefacts called swarm-bots. The approach will be inspired by recent studies in swarm intelligence, that is, by studies of the self-organising and self-assembling capabilities shown by social insects and other animal societies. The main scientific goal of the project is a better understanding of swarm intelligence principles and of the use of these principles in engineering, while the main tangible goal is the demonstration of the validity of the approach followed by means of the construction of at least one such artefact. The expected results are therefore the further development of the swarm intelligence discipline, and the design and construction of a first example of swarm-bot, that is, an artefact composed of a number of simpler robots capable of self-assembling and self-organising to adapt to its environment.

OBJECTIVES
The main scientific objective of the SWARM-BOTS project is to study a novel approach to the design and implementation of self-organising and self-assembling artefacts. This novel approach finds its theoretical roots in recent studies in swarm intelligence, that is, in studies of the self-organising and self-assembling capabilities shown by social insects and other animal societies. The main tangible objective of the project is the demonstration of the approach by means of the construction of at least one such artefact. We intend to construct a swarm-bot, that is, an artefact composed of a number of simpler, insect-like, robots (s-bots), built out of relatively cheap components, capable of self-assembling and self-organising to adapt to its environment.

DESCRIPTION OF WORK
The work will see the co-ordinated interplay of four main activities: (i) the design and implementation of the hardware, (ii) of the simulator, and (iii) of the control system of the swarm-bot, and (iv) the integration, testing, and evaluation of the outcomes of these activities. The general guidelines for designing the hardware, the simulator, and the control mechanisms will be jointly defined at the project start by the project participants in order to ensure consistency across all levels, as decisions at one level impose constraints on what can be done at another level. The guidelines will specify the appropriate hardware for s-bots, the characteristics required to the simulator (what the simulator should simulate) and the control mechanisms (selecting the appropriate space of distributed, swarm intelligence-based control mechanisms and the appropriate learning and evolutionary algorithms).

Based on such specifications, prototypes will be developed, evaluated and documented for all three components: s-bots (hardware), simulation (software) and swarm intelligence-based control mechanisms (software). The control mechanisms will be tested both with the simulator and hardware implementations. Final versions of each of the three components will be developed and fine-tuned using inputs and feedback from the other two components. An integrated prototype and demonstrator will then be developed. The main deliverable will be a set of individual hardware s-bots that can self-assemble into a shape-changing swarm-bot to accomplish a small number of tasks. Tasks considered will be dynamic shape formation and shape changing and navigation on rough terrain. In both cases, will be considered situations in which a single s-bot cannot accomplish the task and the cooperative effort performed by the s-bots aggregated in a swarm-bot is necessary.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts

Coordinator

UNIVERSITE LIBRE DE BRUXELLES
Address
Avenue Franklin Roosevelt 50
Bruxelles
Belgium

Participants (3)

CONSIGLIO NAZIONALE DELLE RICERCHE
Italy
Address
Piazzale Aldo Moro 7
00185 Roma
ECOLE POLYTECHNIQUE FEDERALE DE LAUSANNE
Switzerland
Address
Ecublens
1015 Lausanne
INSTITUTO DALLE MOLLE DI STUDI SULL'INTELLIGENZA ARTIFICIALE
Switzerland
Address
Galleria 2
6928 Manno