Thursday, March 28, 2013

swarm "intelligence"?

sciencedaily | Swarming is the spontaneous organised motion of a large number of individuals. It is observed at all scales, from bacterial colonies, slime moulds and groups of insects to shoals of fish, flocks of birds and animal herds. Now physicists Maksym Romenskyy and Vladimir Lobaskin from University College Dublin, Ireland, have uncovered new collective properties of swarm dynamics in a study just published in EPJ B. Ultimately, this could be used to control swarms of animals, robots, or human crowds by applying signals capable of emulating the underlying interaction of individuals within the swarm, which could lead to predicted motion patterns elucidated through modelling.

The authors were inspired by condensed matter models, used for example in the study of magnetism, which were subsequently adapted to be biologically relevant to animal swarms. In their model, in addition to the ability to align with its neighbours, each model animal is endowed with two new features: one for collision avoidance and another preventing direction change at every step to ensure persistence of motion.