We report the faithful reproduction of the self-organized aggregation behavior of the German cockroach Blattella germanica with a group of robots. We describe the implementation of the biological model provided by Jeanson et al. in Alice robots, and we compare the behaviors of the cockroaches and the robots using the same experimental and analytical methodology. We show that the aggregation behavior of the German cockroach was successfully transferred to the Alice robot despite strong differences between robots and animals at the perceptual, actuatorial, and computational levels. This article highlights some of the major constraints one may encounter during such a work and proposes general principles to ensure that the behavioral model is accurately transferred to the artificial agents.
Stigmergy is a class of mechanisms that mediate animal-animal interactions. Its introduction in 1959 by Pierre-Paul Grassé made it possible to explain what had been until then considered paradoxical observations: In an insect society individuals work as if they were alone while their collective activities appear to be coordinated. In this article we describe the history of stigmergy in the context of social insects and discuss the general properties of two distinct stigmergic mechanisms: quantitative stigmergy and qualitative stigmergy.