AI News, Rough terrain? No problem for beaver-inspired autonomous robot

Rough terrain? No problem for beaver-inspired autonomous robot

To help these machines overcome uneven terrain and other obstacles, University at Buffalo researchers have turned to beavers, termites and other animals that build structures in response to simple environmental cues, as opposed to following predetermined plans.

It's all about math While the project involves animals and robots, its main focus is math: specifically, developing new algorithms -- the sets of rules that self-governing machines need to make sense of their environment and solve problems.

To address the issue, he is studying stigmergy, a biological phenomenon that has been used to explain everything from the behavior of termites and beavers to the popularity of Wikipedia.

Testing the autonomous rover Using off-the-shelf components, Napp and his students outfitted a mini-rover vehicle with a camera, custom software and a robotic arm to lift and deposit objects.

They then created uneven terrain -- randomly placed rocks, bricks and broken bits of concrete -- to simulate an environment after a disaster such as a tornado or earthquake.

In 10 tests, the robot moved anywhere from 33 to 170 bags, each time creating a ramp which allowed it reach its target location.

Beaver-Inspired Autonomous Robot Could Tackle Uneven Terrain

A biological phenomenon the explains how termites build nests or how beavers build dams has led to a new class of robots that are able to overcome environmental obstacles to reach their target destination.

Scientists from the University of Buffalo have developed an autonomous robot built to tackle uneven terrain and other obstacles using a new set of algorithms, which could be particularly useful in search and rescue operations, planetary exploration for Mars rover-style vehicles and other areas.

“The robot continuously monitors and modifies its terrain to make it more mobile.” The researchers tapped into stigmergy, a biological phenomenon that helps explain a range of subjects including the behavior of termites and beavers.

Initially, a termite will deposit a pheromone-laced ball of mud in a random spot, and other termites attracted to the pheromones are likely to drop their mudballs at the same spot, leading to large termite nests.

Collective Embodied Intelligence Lab

The toolset includes software to automatically track and label the behavior of termites in confined experimental arenas, 3D scanners for continuous observation of termite construction ex-situ, and in-situ setups to compare the alarm response time across different species and colonies.

Amorphous Construction: Theory, Simulation and Robots

Overview of the Amorphous Construction project, showing the final autonomous robot design that senses the environment and uses foam to construct ramps ...

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