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Robot Swarms Aim to Bring Buildings to Life


Mita Laboratory prototype robot

The Mita Laboratory's prototype robot collects data on its surrounding environment. Multiple robots are projected to supplement or replace sensor networks.

Credit: Keio University

Engineer Akira Mita seeks to create "living" buildings occupied by swarms of robotic sensors that track and understand virtually everything about human residents, including their emotional state. The sensors will learn from their errors, self-regulate through the use of digital "hormones," and record information over the course of years, accumulating an experiential archive to be used to program future sensors or even other buildings.

Mita aims to replace conventional sensor networks used in contemporary smart homes with sensor swarms, and his research has yielded a prototype device called the e-bio that can precisely pinpoint sounds and build a three-dimensional model of its environment 10 times a second with a laser eye. Mita's team is focused on making these machines hyper-sensitive to signals emitted by humans, such as body language or words that indicate discomfort. In response, the robots would communicate a hormonal signal that would change the network's behavior to adjust temperature, illumination, or other environmental controls to increase occupants' comfort levels. Mita's vision is for the robots to make consensus decisions for changing a building's environment.

From BBC News
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Abstracts Copyright © 2012 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


 

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