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Sheffield Team Shows Simplicity Is Key to Cooperative Robots

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The puck robots used in the University of Sheffield research.

A group of engineers has figured out how to get a large number of robots to cluster together and execute tasks without the use of memory or processing power.

Credit: University of Sheffield

University of Sheffield engineers have found a way to get a large number of robots to cluster together and execute tasks without using any memory or processing power.

The ingenuity of their approach lies in its simplicity, because the robots have no memory, do not need to perform any calculations, and require very little information about the environment. Each robot uses one sensor that tells it whether or not it can perceive another robot in front of it, and will either rotate on the spot or move around in a circle until it can see one.

The team in the Sheffield Center for Robotics programmed a group of 40 robots to perform a clustering task, but a computer simulation has shown the approach would work with thousands of robots. Even if the information perceived by the robots gets partially corrupted, the majority would be able to work together to complete a task.

The researchers say such robots could be used to monitor pollution levels or perform tasks in areas that are hazardous for humans.

From University of Sheffield
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