New Software Tracks Swarms of Insects or Robots
A heap of ladybugs.
Credit: Steve Walters/BYU

SwisTrack, a tracking tool for multi-unit robotic and biological systems, is a great way to learn more about swarm behavior—and then mimic it. Three years in the making, this open-source system lets researchers track multiple, mobile, marker-less miniature objects.

From the video:

For quantifying observations in swarm robotics and behavioral biology, the individual behavior of the constituted agents of the swarm need to be analyzed. Conclusions about the processes underlying self-organization can often only be drawn after analysis of hundreds of experiments... (click to see the video)

The software, now in version 3.0.0, allows researchers to track up to thirty insects or robots of different shapes and sizes, and then output their movements in the form of world coordinates. The software ships with a calibration pattern.

For the techies:

SwisTrack's core image manipulation functions are provided by Intels OpenCV library, while GUI functionalities are relying on WxWidgets. Hence, SwisTrack's source is platform-independent, but binaries are currently distributed only for MS Windows.

This project was partially sponsored by the European Project Leurre, sponsored by the European Community.

Why are scientists interested in robotic swarms? Here are some other planned projects:

Get more information about SwisTrack tracking tool for multi-unit robotic and biological systems here and in this SwisTrack pdf.

(This Science Fiction in the News story used with permission from - where science meets fiction.)