At the cross section of bio-mimicry, robotics and logistics – harnessing swarm intelligence
At the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics IML in Dortmund, Germany, researchers are working to harness swarm intelligence as a means of improving the flow of materials and goods in the warehouse environment. In a research hall 1000 square meters in size, the scientists have replicated a small-scale distribution warehouse with storage shelves for 600 small-part carriers and eight picking stations. The heart of the testing facility is a swarm of 50 autonomous vehicles. “In the future, transport systems should be able to perform all of these tasks autonomously, from removal from storage at the shelf to delivery to a picking station.
If you abstract it a couple of levels and use similar components, can we:
- Use a swarm of tiny robots to pick garbage sort it (paper/plastic) and put them in different bins?
- Work on a form on a myriad of tasks?
- To keep gardens and public places which do not get so much attention because they are expensive to maintain?
I am sure that the sum of parts X (swarm intelligence) + Y (automated tiny devices with sensors)+ Z ( a variety of applications) can have many possibilities. However, there are many implications:
- What would they cost?
- What will be the impact on jobs? How will jobs shift?
- What kind of new problems will they introduce?