To navigate networks of paths, robotic ants follow trails of light instead of pheromones, and they maintain their individual orientations. Data on how these robots navigate via swarm behavior, along with the design of their trail networks, may help make human transportation networks (such as those used inside a factory) more efficient.
The robots, developed by a joint US-French research team, behave like insects but don't look like them. The researchers from the New Jersey Institute of Technology and the Research Center on Animal Cognition in Toulouse, France, built the robots to mimic a real ant colony as its members navigate a network of intersecting paths that connect food and other resources with their nests.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.