Concept involved in the design of robots, instead of a centralised structure with a powerful brain, the control of a robot is allowed to emerge from a collection of independent parts. Rodney Brooks's "mobot" lab developed the following recipe for creating systems with distributed control:
- Do simple things first.
- Learn to do them flawlessly.
- Add new layers of activity over the results of the simple tasks.
- Don't change the simple things.
- Make the new layer work as flawlessly as the simple.
- Repeat, ad infinitum.
As an example, this style of robot architecture was implemented in a robot called "The Collection Machine". This robot roamed at random through its environment ( an office at night) until its camera spotted a drink can on a desk, when one was spotted the robot moved to a position in front of the can. The grabber arm was simply wired to look at the wheels, if it saw the wheels weren't moving it deduced that it must be in front of a can, whereupon it reached out in front for the can. If the can was heavy, it put it back down, if it was light (empty) it held it. The random walk continued, if the arm saw the wheels motionless and , on inspection, also a can in its hand, it deduced it was in front of the bin, whereupon it simply dropped the can. Thus there is no central control implementing a task of collecting litter, the control simply emerges from the component parts.