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Robot Swarm Programing

When it comes to programming a swarm of robots, the question has always been do you program from the top down or the bottom up? According to the Technology Review, you no longer have to decide between programming each robot individually or programming the flock as if it were a single entity. Carlo Pinciroli and a collection of his friends and colleagues at the Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal have come up with Buzz, a programming language that allows you to combine both kinds of commands into a single language. It allows you to tweak the two kinds of command structures to any level of detail you feel is required, and it scales easily to control any size of swarm. If that weren’t enough, they have started building and collecting libraries of program modules of common swarming behavior that researchers and hobbyists can drop into their own programming projects. That means for the first time swarm programmers can actually share their work in a common environment, and not have to be constantly reinventing the wheel someone else already solved.

According to the article Pinciroli did at RoboHub the language syntax was inspired by JavaScript and Python, meaning it should be instantly familiar to any programmer, cutting down on the learning curve involved. And the base run time platform itself is so lean it only takes 12KB, so you can do meaningful programming in the smallest of robots. It also interfaces nicely with other types of languages, such as the ROS, or Robot Operating System. The most exciting part? They released it as open-source software under the MIT license. It can be downloaded at The Swarming Buzz, so you can start programming your hoard of Evil Robot Overlords today!

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