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Extended Stigmergy in Collective Construction
March/April 2006 (vol. 21 no. 2)
pp. 20-28
Justin Werfel, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Radhika Nagpal, Harvard University

A swarm of agents can coordinate its components' behavior by modifying the environment, a practice known as stigmergy. Augmenting the capabilities of environmental elements to let them store, process, or communicate information can increase the power of this approach, in what we call extended stigmergy. A swarm of robots can use either approach to automatically build 2D, solid, user-specified structures out of square building blocks. A comparison of the relative performance of three construction algorithms that use building blocks with different capabilities demonstrates the usefulness of extended stigmergy. That approach can increase the availability of nonlocal information to the mobile robots, and thereby improve construction time and the opportunity to exploit the swarm's parallelism.

This article is part of the special issue on Self-Managing Systems.

Index Terms:
distributed artificial intelligence, coherence and coordination, multiagent systems
Citation:
Justin Werfel, Radhika Nagpal, "Extended Stigmergy in Collective Construction," IEEE Intelligent Systems, vol. 21, no. 2, pp. 20-28, March-April 2006, doi:10.1109/MIS.2006.25
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