Opteran aiming at insect intelligence

Opteran is a company focused on understanding and reverse engineering algorithms of insect intelligence and applying them in robotics.

Results are promising, unfortunately their development is closed. But whatever they transpire in architecture, goals, hardware, results is worth investigating.

Here-s their resources landing page.
This paper provides a good overview of their approach.

How is this relevant to human-like intelligence. A favorite theory is the more complex brains are a society of insect-like brains. The question is what is the swarm-level algorithm of interaction/negotiation/evolution between these cells?


Interesting. Although I did not explore the resources very deeply, I was surprised that Brooks was not cited (or mentioned) in the paper.

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Brooks being who and why should be cited?
It is not a research paper, more of a high level company and technical concept overview.

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That’s an interesting company.
Clearly, their scientific understanding of insects is advanced enough for them to focus on practical applications.

Perhaps it’s not directly relevant, but rather a necessary stepping stone along the way?
If simple insect intelligence eluded us then what chance would we have to understand human intelligence?


I did say ‘or mentioned’. Anyway, I could say Google him, but I wanted to see what ChatGPT had to say. I was not disappointed:

What were Rodney Brooks contributions to robotics?

Rodney Brooks is a significant figure in the field of robotics, known for his pioneering work that has deeply influenced the development of autonomous robots and artificial intelligence. Here are some of his major contributions:

  1. Behavior-Based Robotics:

    • Subsumption Architecture: Brooks introduced the subsumption architecture, a novel approach to building robots. This architecture allows robots to perform complex behaviors by layering simple behaviors on top of each other, without relying on a central control system. This was a departure from traditional AI methods that focused on high-level symbolic processing.
  2. Embodied Cognition:

    • Brooks emphasized the importance of embodied cognition, arguing that intelligence arises from the physical interaction of an agent with its environment. This perspective led to the design of robots that interact more naturally with the world.
  3. Mobile Robots:

    • He developed several mobile robots, such as the robot Allen and the hexapod robot Genghis, which demonstrated his principles of embodied cognition and behavior-based control. These robots were able to navigate and interact with their environments autonomously.
  4. Artificial Life:

    • Brooks contributed to the field of artificial life, exploring how simple rules and interactions can lead to complex behaviors in robots, drawing inspiration from biological systems.
  5. Founding of iRobot:

    • In 1990, Brooks co-founded iRobot, a company that developed and commercialized various robots, including the widely successful Roomba vacuum cleaner. iRobot’s products have demonstrated practical applications of robotics in everyday life.
  6. Founding of Rethink Robotics:

    • Brooks also founded Rethink Robotics, where he developed the robot Baxter, designed to work safely alongside humans in industrial settings. Baxter is known for its user-friendly interface and ability to be easily trained for different tasks.
  7. Influence on AI and Robotics:

    • Brooks’ work has influenced the broader field of AI and robotics, shifting the focus towards creating robots that can learn and adapt in real-time, rather than relying solely on pre-programmed instructions.
  8. Publications and Thought Leadership:

    • He has authored numerous influential papers and books, such as “Cambrian Intelligence: The Early History of the New AI,” where he outlines his theories and approaches to robotics and AI.

Brooks’ contributions have laid the foundation for many modern advancements in robotics, emphasizing practical, real-world applications and the integration of robots into everyday human environments.

Did Brooks build any insect robots?

Yes, Rodney Brooks built several insect-inspired robots that played a crucial role in demonstrating his theories and approaches to robotics. Here are some notable examples:

  1. Genghis:

    • Genghis is one of Brooks’ most famous robots, designed to mimic the behavior of a simple insect. It is a six-legged robot that can walk, climb over obstacles, and adapt to changes in its environment using a decentralized control system. Genghis demonstrated the effectiveness of the subsumption architecture and behavior-based robotics in creating autonomous, adaptive robots.
  2. Allen:

    • Allen was another early insect-inspired robot developed by Brooks. Like Genghis, it used a behavior-based control system to navigate and interact with its environment, showcasing the principles of embodied cognition and decentralized control.
  3. Attila and Hannibal:

    • Attila and Hannibal were further developments in Brooks’ series of insect-like robots. These robots were more advanced than Genghis, with improved sensors and control systems that allowed them to perform more complex tasks and navigate more challenging environments.

These insect robots were instrumental in proving that complex behaviors could emerge from simple, layered control systems, without the need for centralized planning or sophisticated representations of the world. They also highlighted the importance of physical interaction with the environment in developing intelligent behavior, influencing a generation of research in robotics and artificial intelligence.


Ah, Rodney. So obvious, indeed.

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