behaviors in social insects can be very impressive. They range from the
coordinated displacement of thousands of individuals [5, 6] to the building of
complex structures [8, 13] or to the proper allocation of tasks between the
members of a group [11, 4,2]. During the last forty years, a growing body of
studies was interested in understanding the mechanisms underlying these
biological systems. We now know that most of these collective behaviors can be
seen as decentralized systems made of autonomous units that are distributed in
the environment and that follow simple probabilistic stimulus-response behaviors
. This peculiar mode of organization, often based on self-organized
processes, combines e_ciency with flexibility, robustness and distributedness
Aiming at controlling the
behaviors of groups of robots, collective robotics was often inspired by the
collective abilities demonstrated by social animals, and particularly by social
insects . Indeed, social insects represent promising models for the
decentralized organization and coordination of many autonomous robots . For
fifteen years, several studies have used bio-inspired robot controllers to deal
with collective behaviors as manifold as aggregation , foraging , task
allocation , stick pulling , object sorting or place selection .
Therefore this lecture
aims at reviewing the development of this recent bug-inspired collective robotics.
Through di_erent examples of insects-like collective behaviors embodied in
groups of robots, it will emphasize the challenges of coordinating the work of
many autonomous agents and will show the interest of such a research field for
both biologists and roboticists.
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