Artificial Life VI

Tom Thumb Robots Revisited: Self-Regulation as the Basis of Behavior

Elpida Tzafestas
National Technical University of Athens


We analyze the problem of the Tom Thumb robots, i.e., of robots that forage in a closed world and communicate the position of sources using a crumb laying technique. We demonstrate that past solutions to the problem suffer from physical instability, due to crumb exhaustion for individual robots, and we propose as solution a self-regulating mechanism. On a second level, we demonstrate that the introduction of an additional self-regulation loop, parallel to the first, improves the performance of the system. A number of theoretical conclusions are drawn, the most prominent being that the actual collaborative behavior of the system is the by-product of a self-regulation process within each of the agents and that the second regulation loop concerns the parameters that define the temporal dynamics of behavior.

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