Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Termites as constructors, not destroyers

People tend to hate termites (I would hate to have my house eaten too!) but they show us one of the most beautiful examples of emergent behavior, collective work and decentralized task management: the termite nest.

built of mud, sand, shi... well, soil. they are tall pillars that rise from the ground, they have inside fungus gardens, deposit chambers and even a royal chamber to the queen. But the most impressive is the air recycling system! totally emergent from construction (or do you think there is a special "architect" type of termite?! Or more basic, if they even know why they build in this way!)

Here is a youtube Video from a documentary that shows one of those marvels of insect world:

Friday, 7 May 2010


Emergence is a phenomenon that intrigues me... It's quite easy to understand:
From the simple individual behavior of agents, acting locally, a global new behavior emerge from the swarm (possibly with different properties and characteristics).

Consider an "Ant Bridge":

Each individual ant is acting based on some rule like:
"reach the edge, there hold the last one"

They really don't "know" they are making a bridge, they just do it.
Following this behavior they eventually reach the other side forming a bridge. So the bridge itself is an emergent sequel of a simple behavior that had nothing to do with bridges!

I consider those kind of solutions extremely beautiful, not only because it's generality, but because the fundamental behaviors are quite simple and the combination of locally aware agents following the same simple rule solve a much more complex problem.

Monday, 3 May 2010

A Candidate for Mechanical Platform

Browsing some stuff at online shops I stumbled with Merlin Robotics Miabot , It's not the ideal thing but it can be extended thanks to some IOs to it's control board.
It's a also a little expensive for what it is, but maybe it will worth. The other option is creating a robot from scratch, what is more fun but will take more time (a LOT more) ...
I'm very tempted to buy one of those just to check it out!

A lot of designs for the extension board to run eLua and give the self-charging abilities come to my mind...