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ISSN
1064-5462
E-ISSN
1530-9185
2014 Impact factor:
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Artificial Life

Summer 2006, Vol. 12, No. 3, Pages 289-311
(doi: 10.1162/artl.2006.12.3.289)
© 2006 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Distributed Coordination of Simulated Robots Based on Self-Organization
Article PDF (3.65 MB)
Abstract

Distributed coordination of groups of individuals accomplishing a common task without leaders, with little communication, and on the basis of self-organizing principles, is an important research issue within the study of collective behavior of animals, humans, and robots. The article shows how distributed coordination allows a group of evolved, physically linked simulated robots (inspired by a robot under construction) to display a variety of highly coordinated basic behaviors such as collective motion, collective obstacle avoidance, and collective approach to light, and to integrate them in a coherent fashion. In this way the group is capable of searching and approaching a lighted target in an environment scattered with obstacles, furrows, and holes, where robots acting individually fail. The article shows how the emerged coordination of the group relies upon robust self-organizing principles (e.g., positive feedback) based on a novel sensor that allows the single robots to perceive the group's “average” motion direction. The article also presents a robust solution to a difficult coordination problem, which might also be encountered by some organisms, caused by the fact that the robots have to be capable of moving in any direction while being physically connected. Finally, the article shows how the evolved distributed coordination mechanisms scale very well with respect to the number of robots, the way in which robots are assembled, the structure of the environment, and several other aspects.