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First published July 1 2016

Robotic cell surface mechanics

Martin Hinsch, Athanasius F M Maree, and Veronica Grieneisen

Abstract (Excerpt)

In swarm robotics simple identical robots have to be made to coordinate in such a way that they can perform a task. Multi-cellular organisms similarly during development have to be able to create spatial patterns using many identical components (cells) without being able to draw on an absolute frame of reference. Finding and understanding existing solutions to the latter problem might therefore be a promising route to solving the former. Cell-surface mechanics, i.e. cell movement based on surface tension or adhesion is a mechanism that is known to be involved in many basic processes of morphogenesis. We implemented a simplified model of cell surface mechanics on the kilobot, a small robot with limited computational power and without any spatial orientation capabilities. Using only distance measurements to their neighbours kilobots were able to perform various morphogenetic tasks.