Stigmergy and State Sharing (S3): Achieving Collective Goals through Individual Robot Behaviors

Period of Performance: 08/01/2016 - 01/31/2017

$100K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Intelligent Automation, Inc.
15400 Calhoun Dr, Suite 190
Rockville, MD 20855
Firm POC
Principal Investigator

Abstract

In swarms of social insects, simple individual actions can lead to the emergence of highly sophisticated collective behavior, capable of performing tasks that range from shortest path discovery to nest construction. Such collective intelligence has served as an inspiration to researchers in robotics, due to the high effectiveness of its underlying mechanisms. However, in adapting such mechanisms to concrete applications, it is necessary to solve a difficult inverse problem: given a desired collective behavior for achieving some goal, automatically generate a set of individual behaviors that will cause the collective behavior to emerge within a swarm of robots. To address this problem, Intelligent Automation, Inc., proposes to develop a system for automatically generating rules that govern individual actions through stigmergy and state sharing (S3). Stigmergy is defined as indirect communication through the environment, where an individual robot determines its action simply based on the observed actions of nearby robots. State sharing allows each robot to update its state based on the states of nearby robots; in turn, state affects which stigmergic rules are applied, allowing for effective coordination in both space and time. Our system will generate stigmergic and state sharing rules for achieving a wide range of swarm goals.