Impact of Swarming

From helicopters to robot vacuum cleaners, we are immersed in a society that is accepting the advantages of autonomy. Autonomous machines have the ability to gain information about their environments and to work for an extended period of time without human intervention.  Autonomy in machines makes them able to move themselves throughout the operation without human assistance and to avoid situations that are harmful to themselves, people or property. Autonomous machines use sensors to see obstacles, and software allows them to locate and to classify objects in real time.

Autonomy is especially helpful in busy environments. In a hospital, instead of employees leaving their posts, autonomous robots deliver lab results and patient samples expeditiously. Without traditional guidance, these robots navigate the corridors and can even find alternate routes when another is blocked. They stop at pick-up points and collect samples to bring to the lab. DARPA, responsible for bringing vehicle autonomy forward through the Grand Challenge now directs attention to heterogeneous autonomous robots that are capable of performing complex tasks in dangerous environments.

Emerging markets for autonomy cover land, sea and the air. On the land, Business Insider published a report in mid-2015, forecasting that there will be 10 million self-driving cars by 2020. Lux Research has projected that self-driving cars will create an $87-billion industry by 2030. At sea, while oceanography has been skilled in detailing large-scale ocean processes, smaller scale oceanography, such as determining critical nursery habitats for fish and other animals in coastal Marine Protected Areas, are new markets for autonomous technology. In the air, the FAA anticipates aerial drones, introduced only a few years ago, will be a $90 billion market in less than a decade.

 

WHERE WE STAND

Swarming is a collective action carried out by large numbers of agents, where each individual, being simple and independent, is able to accommodate interaction with neighbors and with the environment. Each individual agent has very simple actions, but when the actions are integrated over a large swarm of individuals, group behaviors emerge. As we trend towards collective autonomy in the areas of aerial drones and self- driving cars, tight control of multiple vehicles using only simple rules and interactions will become the preferred approach to ensuring mass safety.

Our mission is to build a business out of the science and technology of swarming. We see it to be the next evolutionary step in autonomy. 

Autonomous vehicles are just now finding their way into search and rescue, high-density traffic flow, military operations, oil spill response, agriculture, medical treatment, port and harbor security and more. There will eventually be the trade-off between buying a single vehicle that is faster, has more sensors, carries more fuel and is more sophisticated in terms of operations or just using a larger number of simple drones. New industries just beginning to use autonomous vehicles (agriculture, package delivery, ride-share for example) will start to realize that they need multi-autonomous vehicles to perform tasks. The use of our swarming technology, as a way to simplify the management of multi-vehicle systems can be of a great assistance to the human operator in a multitude of applications for industry, the military and the public good.

 
 
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SWARMING AND NANOMEDICINE

"We have a tremendous need for disruptive innovation in therapies based upon selective targeting of drugs to disease sites. Presently since 99 percent of injected disease-fighting nanoparticles fail to make it to their needed destination.  Better delivery technologies will improve the efficacy of drugs at lower doses, and therefore minimize the adverse side effects"
- Wyss Institute Symposium on Bioinspired Nanoscale Therapeutics and Diagnostics, Harvard University 2013
 
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SWARMING AND AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL

Think Amazon’s Drone Delivery Idea Is a Gimmick? Think Again

- NY Times, August 10, 2016, Farhad Manjoo

 
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SWARMING AND MILITARY

"The use of very small low powered micro-robots that may be deployed in swarms is becoming a real future possibility. Each individual robot can have very simple actions, but when the actions are integrated over a large swarm of individuals, group behaviors emerge. The challenge is how to select the individual behaviors so that the emergent behavior of the swarm has the desired effect. The solution to the problem should require a swarm that does not require a centralized controller. Interesting solutions may not require the robots to directly communicate between themselves but rather communicate via changes in their environment." 
- Robotics on the Battlefield - The Coming Swarm. Center for a New American Society, Washington DC, Paul Sharre.  October 2014
 

Swarming and NASA

 

 

SWARMING AND AGRIBUSINESS