The lumiBots are a small swarm of autonomous, mobile robots that react to light. They can leave glowing traces which slowly fade away, so that older, darker trails are visible as well as newer, brighter ones. This way, images that consistently change are generated. The robots can follow the lines with their light sensors, and amplify them whilst preferring brighter (newer) and broader (more often used) trails.The lumiBots demonstrate how complexity evolves from simple rules and the interaction between the components of a system, a phenomenon referred to as emergence. The lumiBots make emergent effects tangible, such as the so-called Ant Colony Optimization algorithms, by visualising the principle of pheromone trails in the form of glowing trails. The lines fade away with time, just like real ant trails do.
The lumiBots trace their path with a UV LED on phosphorescent paper. The robots do not have a memory chip, nor do they learn anything, but the glowing trails can be seen as some kind of external memory. The lumiBots' behaviour is not pre-programmed and not predictable, but it is not random either: It emerges from the interaction between the robots, the simple rules they follow, and influences from the surrounding.
The robot platform was developed, designed and produced by the artist, with the assistance of Philipp Urbanz (TU Berlin). It is based on Arduino and designed to be both cheap, easy to build and supereasy to understand. The idea was to make a shield that can be attached to an Arduino board so that people who have made their first steps with Arduino can easily make their first experiences with a mobile autonomous robot.