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Social Integration of Robots into Groups of Cockroaches to Control Self-Organized Choices

Science  16 Nov 2007:
Vol. 318, Issue 5853, pp. 1155-1158
DOI: 10.1126/science.1144259

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Abstract

Collective behavior based on self-organization has been shown in group-living animals from insects to vertebrates. These findings have stimulated engineers to investigate approaches for the coordination of autonomous multirobot systems based on self-organization. In this experimental study, we show collective decision-making by mixed groups of cockroaches and socially integrated autonomous robots, leading to shared shelter selection. Individuals, natural or artificial, are perceived as equivalent, and the collective decision emerges from nonlinear feedbacks based on local interactions. Even when in the minority, robots can modulate the collective decision-making process and produce a global pattern not observed in their absence. These results demonstrate the possibility of using intelligent autonomous devices to study and control self-organized behavioral patterns in group-living animals.

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