Study of group food retrieval by ants as a model for multi-robot collective transport strategies

Spring Berman, Quentin Lindsey, Mahmut Selman Sakar, Vijay Kumar, Stephen Pratt

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

12 Scopus citations


Group food retrieval in some ant species serves as a useful paradigm for multi-robot collective transport strategies that are decentralized, scalable, and do not require a priori information about the payload. We investigate this phenomenon in Aphaenogaster cockerelli in order to extract the ants' roles during transport, the rules that govern their actions, and the individual forces that they apply to guide a food item to their nest. To measure these forces, we designed and fabricated elastic structures with calibrated stiffness properties, induced ants to retrieve the structures, and tracked the resulting deformations with a camera. We then developed a hybrid system model of the ant behaviors that were observed in the experiments. We conducted simulations of the behavioral model that incorporate a quasi-static model of planar manipulation with compliant attachment points. Our simulations qualitatively replicate individual ant activity as well as certain macroscopic features of the transport.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationRobotics
Subtitle of host publicationScience and Systems VI
EditorsHugh Durrant-Whyte, Yoky Matsuoka, Jose Neira
PublisherMIT Press Journals
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)9780262516815
StatePublished - 2011
EventInternational Conference on Robotics Science and Systems, RSS 2010 - Zaragoza, Spain
Duration: Jun 27 2010Jun 30 2010

Publication series

NameRobotics: Science and Systems
ISSN (Electronic)2330-765X


OtherInternational Conference on Robotics Science and Systems, RSS 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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