Review the receptive texts (Reading and Listening) that have been covered in the course so far. Choose 1 and write a reflective response. Consider the following:
Why did you choose it?
Why did you choose it?
How is it interesting?
Why is it meaningful to you?
In what way is it relevant to you and your future studies?
How did it inform you and/or change your perspective/behaviour/opinion?
Remember that you shouldn’t just describe the text. You should relate it to your own experiences and/or learning.
210 words will be enough. NO SOURCES NO REFERENCES. IT IS AN OPINION
This is the text:
The Swarm Bots: Using Ant Algorithms in the Information Age
1Ants are simple creatures, yet they can perform complicated tasks. They create highways leading to food, organize the distribution of larvae in the anthill, form cemeteries by clustering dead ants, build living bridges to cross gaps in their way, and assign and shift tasks as needed without any centralized control. Thus, ants provide an excellent illustration of how simple devices can achieve complex results.
2Boil down ant behaviour and what do you get? A new set of business tools known as ant algorithms: basic behaviours that can be programmed into a large number of independent software agents to solve human problems.
3Consider the way ants forage. When an ant comes across food, it returns to the nest, leaving a scent trail. Other ants follow the trail, find the goods, and carry them back to the nest, reinforcing the path with their own scent, which attracts still more ants. Shorter routes get more traffic, so the scent becomes stronger along these, while it dies away on longer, lesser-used ones. Using this method, ants follow the shortest paths between their nest and nearby food sources.
4This route-finding capability is remarkably handy. Colonies of simulated ants laying down digital scent trails can find the best way to send delivery trucks through city streets or data packets through communication networks. More generally, ant algorithms can find minimum-cost solutions to a
Richmond, K. (2009). Inside Reading 4: The academic word list in context (pp. 129-135). NY, New York: 41 OUP.
variety of logistical problems in distribution and scheduling. Unilever uses them to allocate storage tanks, chemical mixers, and packaging facilities. Southwest Airlines uses them to optimize its cargo operations. Numerous consulting houses, such as the Swiss firm AntOptima, have embraced them as an indispensable tool. But logistics are just the beginning. Ant algorithms are also being used to control a class of robots called swarm bots. Typically, a swarm bot is a collection of simple robots (s- bots) that self-organize according to algorithms inspired by the bridge-building and task-allocation activities of ants. For example, if an s-bot encounters an object too heavy or bulky to carry on its own, other s-bots will grasp either the object or other s-bots until they get it under control. Two or more can link up to cross a gap that exceeds a single s-bot’s stride. With this ability to temporarily mass together or spread out, a swarm bot’s form depends on its surroundings and the job it’s doing. Such devices might prove helpful in activities like search-and-rescue and planetary exploration.
5The ability to swarm, adapt, and optimize— all the skills implied by ant behaviour— makes ant algorithms a crucial technology for the information age, especially as everyday objects become ever smarter. The rules that insects live by turn out to be perfectly suited to the high-tech anthill.
6A team at the Free University of Brussels in Belgium is embarking on a 42-month research project to build and test a 60-strong swarm of small, autonomous robots – the swarmanoid – capable of collaborating in 3D environments.
7The swarmanoid initiative follows the successful completion of the swarm-bots project, in which the researchers demonstrated the ability of identical robots to work in formations to overcome challenges such as carrying heavy objects and traveling across rough terrain— tasks that a single swarm bot could not accomplish alone.
8The $3.5 million project will feature footbots, handbots, and eyebots, said Marco Dorigo, research director at the university’s IRIDIA lab.
9The three types of bots will join forces to create a swarmanoid and perform various jobs. The footbots will transport objects on the ground level, while handbots with specialized climbing and grappling devices take to the walls. Some eyebots equipped with visual sensors will operate attached to the ceiling, overseeing the action below and feeding information to their robotic colleagues; others will fly.
10″The long-term vision is to build robots that, like humanoid robots, are supposed to live in human- made environments,” Dorigo said. “But instead of the anthropomorphic vision of humans in robots, we want to take the swarm approach.”
11The swarmanoid’s footbot design will be used on the swarm-bot architecture. But the scientists decided the bots would be more practical if different models were customized for particular jobs.
Richmond, K. (2009). Inside Reading 4: The academic word list in context (pp. 129-135). NY, New York: 42 OUP.
Photo Francesco Mondada and Michael Bonani from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sbot_mobile_robot_passing_step.jpeg License at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by- sa/3.0/
12″Why try to solve problems using a single type when you can have robots that are specialized for specific tasks?” he said. To demonstrate the swarmanoid’s abilities, the team wants to create a swarmanoid that can tidy a bedroom, as well as remove an object from a shelf and bring it to a humanoid.
13In the long term, a swarmanoid could be used in earthquake rescue situations, or perform specialized tasks in buildings and factories. Dorigo said he hopes to publish his work in late 2007, and to have experimental results in about two years.
14Other robotics experts agree that various types of robots working together will be the most useful.
15″For robotics to really make an impact in the world, we have to get lots of robots into people’s hands,” said Tucker Balch, associate professor in interactive and intelligent computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology, who works in multi-robot team research.
16″The two barriers to that are cost and utility, but it becomes feasible with the swarm idea, which would allow households to buy several inexpensive robots that could work together,” Balch said. “The view of swarms consisting of all identical robots just isn’t going to take off.” The use of different kinds of robots in the same team follows the division of labour in ant colonies extremely well, said Payman Arabshahi, of the University of Washington’s Applied Physics Lab. Furthermore, if scientists can scale the robots to a much smaller size than an ant, the possibilities are endless.
17″It’s not too far-fetched; to think that if we take the concept of self-assembling robots to the micro or even nano level, you could have cases where micro-robots would self-assemble inside the human body for a certain procedure and then disassemble and essentially self-destruct after the procedure is done,” said Arabshahi.
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