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Formica - open source swarm bot
by IKE 07-Jan-2010 18:00

Swarm Intelligence is a very hot topic and these micro robots should be a very good swarm programming and behavior practice. They called ' formica ' and they are the collaboration of Rob Spanton, Steve English, Alexis Johnson, Jo Sun and Jeff Gough. The robot itself is as simple as possible. It uses two small motors, converted mobile phone vibrators and two wire 'skis'. It can steer by differential motor movement. It has a MSP430F2254 microcontroller for calculations, three IR LED/Photodiode phototransistors with multi-frequency FSK modem scheme for communications and it uses down-looking IR photoreflective sensor to observe their environment.They can also recharge by themselves throu an exposed wire that they can attach to a charging rail.---

The project is open source, all the software and the hardware plans and schemes are freely available in order for everyone to use it and program it for various uses and projects. As in many open source programs, the creators welcome the hacking and tinkering of the robots and their ambition is to create a community around them. There is a wiki website for the project here: http://formica.srobo.org/wiki/Main_Page

The robots would soon be avaliable as a kit with a cost of about 35 euros / robot. Of course anyone with the skills or will can produce them by himself

You can watch some videos with examples of swarm behavior from the formica robots here:

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