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Artificial Intelligence Lab.

The Artificial Intelligence Lab at MIT has been playing host to the tread of tiny feet these days. Or. more correctly, the feat of tiny treads. Researchers have integrated cubic-inch-size microrobots with 17 sensors each. IR emitters were then added to allow the 'bots to communicate with each other. The resulting "ant colony" has resulted in a structured robotic community made up of the interactions of individual units. The sensor array includes four light sensors, four IR receivers, bump sensors. "food" sensors (food consists of crumpled balls or brass foil that trigger a response between a ground reference and a conductive surface) and a tilt sensor. The IR emitters for communication are mounted on the top and front of the robot. The brain of each robot is an 8-bit MC68HC1 1E9 running at 2MHz, the same power that ran early Atari/Commodore computers. The idea was not to have huge codes in each 'bot, but to increase system complexity by adding more robots. Current skills include games such as Follow the Leade r, Tag and Manhunt, the latter similar to tag but played with two teams, and it is from these team games that the researchers are developing further community-behavior protocols. Each robot is even topped with single red, yellow and green LEDs to tell researchers at a glance what the unit's "mood" is like, based on how the software is running.
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Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 1999
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