Science

Physicomimetic Swarming Robots

Posted 1 Jun 2003 at 14:50 UTC by steve Share This

The University of Wyoming has announced the development of some new mini-robots that act together in a swarms of 100 or more. Using multi-modal sensor array technology, the robots can detect and locate the source of chemical or biological toxin plumes. The researchers are using a novel technology known as physicomimetics or "artificial physics" to create the self-organization and behaviour within the swarm. The research is being done by Diana Gordon-Spears, William M. Spears, and David R. Thayers.


Silly New Word Alert!, posted 1 Jun 2003 at 22:27 UTC by The Swirling Brain » (Master)

I just came out with an artificializing physicadece robot that can quantize stick-bits in less than 50 triloseconds. It has an extra sodifying output so that it can absorb stoas during idle time for extra power. With it's combustion-chamberless fractalic shapeshifting metamorphizling featured body, making it 10 robots in one so it can do 10 times the cryllic work that other robots can do. It can output extraordinarily longston words without any discernable meaning beside real words onto it's critticine display arrazor without the need for botolizing potentals or artifical space field. I'm looking for more funding or a grant (ie, several ulysses if you know what I mean) so if anyone is interested in getting on this earthshattering groundfloor opportunity email me at once before this dandifiscal opportunity to study emerganting behavior gets away. I already have 20 id10ts who are seriously committed (if you know what I mean) and I only need 5 more. Are you ready for an unforgettable fractolic opportunity of a lifetime?

Ok, so they made some cool small robots that can detect stuff and can gather into neato patterns. Artificial Physics? Physiccommetric? What's that all about? I guess the next time I make a robot I'm going to have to come up with some good made up catchy words too.

New word, posted 2 Jun 2003 at 14:45 UTC by earlwb » (Master)

A new word was probably developed so they could patent or trademark it. I wonder what happened to the (TM) or (Patent Pending) stuff.

you guys..., posted 2 Jun 2003 at 15:41 UTC by steve » (Master)

As Marvin the Paranoid Android might say, "Physicomimetic - it's very simple: "physics" "mimick" - it mimicks physics".

Think "biomimetics" - that means your robot's behaviour is based on something found in biology. To use a swarming example, if a swarm of robots was designed to flock like birds, move like a school of fish, or interact like ants, it might be described as a biomimetic behaviour. We're used to that because we've been hearing about biomimetic robots for a while. On the other hand, think about a group of objects whose movements are governed by physics - a group of planets moving around a star due to gravity, for example. Physicomimetic swarming means your robot's movement are based on a "law" of physics. Except it doesn't have to a be a real law of physics like gravity - you can make up your laws just like you would in a video game. Here's an older paper from the Naval Research Laboratory that explains it in more detail:

http://www.aic.nrl.navy.mil/~spears/ap.html

Plural Doesn't Always Make Emergent Behavior, posted 3 Jun 2003 at 03:19 UTC by The Swirling Brain » (Master)

I guess I am a little trigger happy with the word thing rant. So never mind about that.

Next topic... Emergent Behavior rant...

Clumping swarm robots is a noble and advanced task, but I still don't buy the idea that just because you have a more than one robot (swarm) that you automatically have emergent (new) behavior. Emergant behavior would be something new that happens that wasn't programmed. Like say, you programmed the robot to just beep when it saw a light and instead, the smart little critter excelled his programming and it figured out how to modulated a beep in such a new way that you heard it say "I saw light". Now that would be emergent behavior. Now emergent behavior is not when you program it to go zig zag and then you get five robots and say, look they all did a zig zag in formation isn't that cool? That's not emergent behavior, THEY didn't come up with anything new, YOU just saw it in a new way. Now say for instance on a piece of paper you drew lines slanting to the left and some others slanting to the right, you would have an optical illusion, but that would not be emergent behavior, you just saw it in a new way. Same with swarm robots that create a cool cluster pattern, that is not new emergent intelligence but just a cool optical thing. Granted I don't know enough about this particular EDU's work to really make any accusations, but seeing that many others have made similar claims about emergent behavior, it's hard not to be a little gun shy. I would like to see real proof to emergent behavior or new swarm intelligence, not just some see it formed a cluster like we expected it to do. That's not emergent behavior. Doing one preprogrammed behavior across a hundred robots and they aren't gaining anything by doing it doesn't make it emergent behavior (IE: A bunch of robots attracting to each other as they were programmed to do). Now making a robot that could with its piece of intelligence link up and cause other robots with their piece of intelligence to do something more than their singular intelligence (two heads are better than one scenario) then that would be emergent. Figuring out or achieving something that they couldn't have done on their own or just because they are replicated would be emergent behavior. Star Trek may have a better idea of emergent behavior when they made the fictional Borg that adapt, or even look at the lowly ant, it does its little job and functioning together they survive and adapt to problems whereas apart they fail or couldn't achieve the same. Humans also can do anything together moreso than apart. So can't we all just get along and agree on these things?

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