Thomas Schmickl from FoCAS partner Assisi_bf appeared in the Guardian article – “Robot swarms: scientists work to harness the power of the insect world” on Friday 18th September 2015.
Thomas Schmickl of the Artificial Life Laboratory at the University of Graz in Austria, points out that robots as complex as humans or even dogs are a long way off, but the possibility in the insect world for simple animals to behave in ingenious ways as a group can provide some insight into how to simulate intelligence.
Schmickl’s current crop of robots work mostly underwater – his swarm of as many as 20 swimming robots, all named Jeff, imitates a shoal of fish. With the EU-supported Collective Cognitive Robots project, he hopes to develop not just hardware but algorithms and other software to make group behavior smarter.
“[M]onolithic, non-scaling technology is currently hitting the wall everywhere,” Schmickl said. He points out that computers now often have multiple central processing units, and says that swarms are not necessarily armies of robot bugs. “[W]e talk about the ‘internet of things’ – that might also be perceived as another kind of swarm.”
Schmickl mentioned the Philae lander, which touched down on a comet only to fail at its attempt to drill into the surface and collect samples. “Imagine we had done that with five or 10 smaller, cheaper probes,” he said. “Not only would the risk of a total failure be much lower, you could collect data from different places.”