A research team at the University of Manchester introduced an application for a group of robots: they can release pheromones and thus communicate with insects. This is reported by Adaptive Behavior.
Pheromones are chemicals that animals and humans release into the environment: it can cause certain behavior in others. For example, the release of pheromones can provoke mating behavior, warn other animals about a dangerous situation, and also report that someone’s territory is here.
Researchers have attempted to artificially reproduce how insects, such as ants, use pheromones to communicate.
We wanted to imitate the ants that produce pheromones, as well as respond to them. We use the developed system in the application of a group of robots. Now we are studying the possibility of testing it in real conditions.
Farshad Arvin, one of the researchers
In past studies, scientists have tried to create a system of artificial pheromones using alcohol, RFID tags, and light, as substitutes for chemicals naturally released by animals. One of the most promising systems that has been developed, COSΦ, it uses light to emulate the release of pheromones in humans and animals. Arvin and his colleagues developed a system based on COSΦ, which also uses a model that describes how pheromones propagate in space and time.
The researchers applied their system of artificial pheromones in a series of experiments in which a group of small robots moved and adapted to various environmental factors. Their results were very promising: the system provided effective communication and caused predictable behavior.
The new robot system can be used in the field of robotics. For example, in the future, it could be used to improve communication between individual robots that jointly carry out reconnaissance missions in remote geographical areas, in difficult or adverse weather conditions.