Plenary Aronson

Igor Aronson
Department of Chemistry and Mathematics
Pennsylvania State University

Collective behavior of microrobotic swarms with long-range communications and decision-making

Microrobotic swarms play a crucial role in pollutant foraging threat detection, and tissue embolization. In nature, living organisms from social amoeba to bats and whales use chemical and acoustic signals to communicate and enhance their evolutionary competitiveness. This feature is mostly lacking in simple microrobots, while it could significantly enhance their functionality and efficiency. In my talk, I consider two examples of simple microrobotic swarms with long-range communications and local decision making. In the first example, we consider the self-organization of interacting self-propelled agents that locally process information transmitted by chemical signals. We show that this communication capacity dramatically expands agents’ ability to form complex structures, allowing them to self-organize through a series of collective dynamical states at multiple hierarchical levels. The second example focuses on self-propelled agents communicating via acoustic signals. In this realization, each unit is equipped with an acoustic emitter and a detector. The swarmers respond to the resulting acoustic field by adjusting their emission frequency and migrating toward the strongest signal. The self-organized structures exhibit emergent functionalities, such as targeted aggregation and dispersal upon a signal, boundary guidance, and self-regeneration after strong distortion that allows them to penetrate through narrow constrictions. Our results provide insights into the design principles of communicating microrobotic swarms capable of performing complex tasks and responding to external controls.