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PDF 1.32 MB
Pages 579–586
First published 20 July 2015

Coordination of collective behaviours in spatially separated agents

Rob Mills, Payam Zahadat, Fernando Silva, Damjan Mlikic, Pedro Mariano, Thomas Schmickl, and Luís Correia


We aim to better understand collective behaviours in social animals, doing so in the context of bio-hybrid societies, i.e., those that comprise robots and animals. Together, they make up a collective adaptive system, in which the self-organising patterns of the natural society can be understood, augmented and modified by the presence of robots. Here, we conduct a series of simulation-based experiments to investigate how natural behaviours in juvenile honeybees can be influenced by robots that are able to change key environmental stimuli. Firstly, we show specific couplings between animals and robots that can lead to symmetry-breaking and collective decision-making, even from an initially homogeneous environment. Secondly, we demonstrate that collective decisions made by animals in distinct habitats can be coordinated, through robots that share only relatively simple information between habitats. Such mixed animal-robot societies exhibit multiple interactions and feedback loops, the understanding of which is key to the design of engineered parts that successfully harness the potential of the overall complex system.