A Colony Architecture for an Artificial Creature
This report describes a working autonomous mobile robot whose only goal is to collect and return empty soda cans. It operates in an unmodified office environment occupied by moving people. The robot is controlled by a collection of over 40 independent "behaviors'' distributed over a loosely coupled network of 24 processors. Together this ensemble helps the robot locate cans with its laser rangefinder, collect them with its on-board manipulator, and bring them home using a compass and an array of proximity sensors. We discuss the advantages of using such a multi-agent control system and show how to decompose the required tasks into component activities. We also examine the benefits and limitations of spatially local, stateless, and independent computation by the agents.