Journal article

Self-Organized Aggregation Triggers Collective Decision Making in a Group of Cockroach-Like Robots

Self-amplification processes are at the origin of several collective decision phenomena in insect societies. Understanding these processes requires linking individual behavioral rules of insects to a choice dynamics at the colony level. In a homogeneous environment, the German cockroach Blattella germanica displays self-amplified aggregation behavior. In a heterogeneous environment where several shelters are present, groups of cockroaches collectively select one of them. In this article, we demonstrate that the restriction of the self-amplified aggregation behavior to distinct zones in the environment can explain the emergence of a collective decision at the level of the group. This hypothesis is tested with robotics experiments and dedicated computer simulations. We show that the collective decision is influenced by the available spaces to explore and to aggregate in, by the size of the population involved in the aggregation process and by the probability of encounter zones while the robots explore the environment. We finally discuss these results from both a biological and a robotics point of view.


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