Monday, March 26, 2012

Warehouse Robots Get Smarter With Ant Intelligence

Inside Technology from IEEE Spectrum reports that researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics are experimenting with warehouse robots that communicate with each other rather than a central server (like Kiva's bots that Amazon just bought), using algorithms based on a model of "how ants forage for food to cooperatively decide which of them should go where and do what."

"The robots don't need fixed localization points," says the article, "but instead rely on 'integrated localization and navigation technology' (including signal-based location capability, distance and acceleration sensors and laser scanners) to find the most direct routes to their destination without crashing into anything or each other. This makes them very efficient, and it also makes the system easily scalable, since you can introduce new things and the robots won't freak out."

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