Good swarming requires all types

Kirstin Petersen, researcher at Cornell’s Collective Embodied Intelligence Lab, studied termite behavior hoping her observations might shape new algorithms for autonomous construction robots. She learned that some termites are natural-born leaders, others are hardworking go-getters, and some are woefully underperforming slackers.

It’s an insight that may have implications for swarm robotics, where the classic assumption has been that swarms consist of large numbers of identical units. Instead, a little individualism may go a long way.


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