Construction by robot swarms using extended stigmergy
We describe a system in which simple, identical, autonomous robots assemble two-dimensional structures out of identical building blocks. We show that, in a system divided in this way into mobile units and structural units, giving the blocks limited communication abilities enables robots to have sufficient global structural knowledge to rapidly build elaborate pre-designed structures. In this way we extend the principle of stigmergy (storing information in the environment) used by social insects, by increasing the capabilities of the blocks that represent that environmental information. As a result, arbitrary solid structures can be built using a few fixed, local behaviors, without requiring construction to be planned out in detail.