When less is more: Robot swarms adapt better to changes with constrained communication

Mohamed S. Talamali, Arindam Saha, James A. R. Marshall, and Andreagiovanni Reina
Science Robotics 6(56): eabf1416
video: https://bcove.video/3zwyQpA 

You found a new better bar, with nicer drinks and healthier snacks, but you do not know how to convince your friends to deviate from their established favourite bar and take them to the new better place. Next time, you should consider convincing your friends one by one, rather than reaching out in the group chat. Recent research published today in Science Robotics, suggests that this strategy will increase your probability of convincing the entire group to choose the better bar.
The study has found that a population of naive individuals, when globally connected, can be unable to discard outdated beliefs and adopt better available alternatives. Instead, when the social network is sparse and individuals only share information locally, the population can effectively adapt to changes and reach an agreement in favour of the best option.
Researchers investigated how a swarm of autonomous robots could adapt to environmental changes and found the counterintuitive result that reduced social information would improve the spreading of localised information, and, in turn, allows an informed minority to effectively change the opinion of the entire group. This finding is opposed to the widely accepted and intuitive belief in network science that more connections lead to more effective information exchange. While information spreading speed may indeed increase, the study showed that adaptation—the ability to modify the group’s belief in light of new information—is impaired.

Read the full article at: robotics.sciencemag.org