Agent Activities

Foraging Search
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About the Laboratory




      The lab is dedicated to the study of adaptive processes in artificial agents. An agent can be either a physical robot like the MAVRIC platform, or a software agent. Our Web search agent, Cyberbot, is an example of such.

    The central thesis of research in the lab is that artificial agents will become more useful when they attain the kind of autonomy found in natural agents (animals). This level of autonomy is seen in the behavior of animals that forage for resources in highly dynamic, nonstationary environments. 

    Two of the major areas of research involve an adaptive processing element, the adaptrode, and the elaboration of the foraging search procedure. The former is based more strongly on biological synapses than are found in conventional artificial neural network learning rules. The latter constitutes the domain of missions that an artificial agent might pursue.

    Currently the lab has two research robot platforms from ActivMedia, a Pioneer I and Pioneer II-CE.  Both have been modified to include sensory apparatus quite different from typical robotic platforms.  In addition we have eight Lego Robotics kits that are used primarily in classes, but can be put together to create a really interesting robot!  Other lab facilities include a number of support computers (both Linux and NT development environments) and 20 self-contained, active signal towers (emitting light and/or tones under remote computer control).  These latter act as objects in the environment.