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Cognitive swarming: an approach from the theoretical neuroscience of hippocampal function
Author(s): Joseph D. Monaco; Grace M. Hwang; Kevin M. Schultz; Kechen Zhang
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Paper Abstract

The rise of mobile multi-agent robotic platforms is outpacing control paradigms for tasks that require operating in complex, realistic environments. To leverage inertial, energetic, and cost benefits of small-scale robots, critical future applications may depend on coordinating large numbers of agents with minimal onboard sensing and communication resources. In this article, we present the perspective that adaptive and resilient autonomous control of swarms of minimal agents might follow from a direct analogy with the neural circuits of spatial cognition in rodents. We focus on spatial neurons such as place cells found in the hippocampus. Two major emergent hippocampal phenomena, self-stabilizing attractor maps and temporal organization by shared oscillations, reveal theoretical solutions for decentralized self-organization and distributed communication in the brain. We consider that autonomous swarms of minimal agents with low-bandwidth communication are analogous to brain circuits of oscillatory neurons with spike-based propagation of information. The resulting notion of `neural swarm control' has the potential to be scalable, adaptive to dynamic environments, and resilient to communication failures and agent attrition. We illustrate a path toward extending this analogy into multi-agent systems applications and discuss implications for advances in decentralized swarm control.

Paper Details

Date Published: 13 May 2019
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 10982, Micro- and Nanotechnology Sensors, Systems, and Applications XI, 109822D (13 May 2019); doi: 10.1117/12.2518966
Show Author Affiliations
Joseph D. Monaco, The Johns Hopkins Univ. School of Medicine (United States)
Grace M. Hwang, Johns Hopkins Univ. Applied Physics Lab., LLC (United States)
Kevin M. Schultz, Johns Hopkins Univ. Applied Physics Lab., LLC (United States)
Kechen Zhang, The Johns Hopkins Univ. School of Medicine (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 10982:
Micro- and Nanotechnology Sensors, Systems, and Applications XI
Thomas George; M. Saif Islam, Editor(s)

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