The SwarmLab is an interdisciplinary research unit that explores the mechanisms of swarm intelligence. We study how information is exchanged and transformed during interactions between members of a group and how this leads to “intelligent” group behaviors. We focus on the coordination of large animal groups, such as ant colonies, ungulate herds, baboon troops and human crowds. We use this knowledge to develop applications to problems such as the organization of pedestrian traffic and the control of miniature robotic swarms. We collaborate with biologists, social scientists, physicists, mathematicians and computer scientists around the world to elucidate the principles that underlie collective behavior across levels of biological and social organization. Current projects include research into the decision-making abilities of neuron-less organisms such as the slime mold; the organization of traffic and supply chains in leaf-cutting ants; the dynamic construction behavior of nomadic army ants; the role of vocal communication in the coordination of activities in mammal groups; the impact of poaching on movement decisions and social structure in African elephant herds; and the application of swarm intelligence principles to predictive policing software.
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