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Virtual Dictionary

Utility Fog

Utility Fog, or a Foglet Swarm, is an ultimate type of swarm robotics. Originally coined in 1993, the term refers to a swarm of microscopic, perhaps nanoscale robots, of such size that they literally form a thick fog when in the air, and quickly amass to a sizeable pile on the ground.

Each foglet in the utility fog is basically a tiny ball or polygonal sphere with connective arms capable of extending in every direction or withdrawing inside the ball. When extended, they connect to the extended arm of another foglet, and the connection allows both data and power to flow. Each possessing a tiny computation centre, and possibly a power source, the whole idea of utility fog is that the robotic swarm can be programmed to self-assemble according to any conceivable structure.

Connecting randomly at first, the swarm would in theory be capable of determining the current and desired shape of their structure, with individual robots extending or retracting their connective arms according to the needs of the overall structure.

It is a conceptual way of building, that could literally allow a building or piece of furniture to self-assemble just from pouring a bucket full of foglets on the ground at the desired location, providing programming instructions and a power source.

Equally conceivably, when the structure no-longer has a purpose, the swarm could be told to dismantle, and break their connections with one another, turning back into a utility fog where once a building stood. Of course, in some cases it might be better to make the connections permanent once established, to avoid nefarious use of this feature in an inhabited building, for example.

Nothing in the concept of utility fog, or the foglet itself, contradicts what we currently understand of the behaviour of swarm robotic systems. If anything, our understanding continues to reinforce the belief that these are quite possible.

See also: Particle Swarm, Swarm Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Swarm Intelligence, Ant Colony Optimisation, Ant Colony Optimisation Algorithms

Below, we offer a selection of links from our resource databases which may match this term.

Related Dictionary Entries for Utility Fog:

Ant Colony Optimisation

Ant Colony Optimisation Algorithms

Collective Artificial Intelligence


Foglet Swarm

Swarm Intelligence

Utility Fog


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Mechanical engineers at the University of California, San Diego invented a robot designed to scoot along utility lines, searching for damage and other problems that require repairs. Made of off-the-shelf electronics and plastic parts printe...

The hurried deployment of smart-grid technology could leave critical infrastructure and private homes vulnerable to hackers. Security experts at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas last week warned that smart-grid hardware and software la...

A new quick, easy to use and free software tool created by NREL developers seamlessly combines the building energy simulation of EnergyPlus with the popular drawing interface of Google's SketchUp, helping architects design healthier struct...

Yoshiyuki Sankai at the University of Tsukuba near Tokyo, has developed an exoskeleton for a single arm, designed specifically to enhance the strength and utility of ageing limbs.

The device consists of a tabbard worn over th...

Simulations are an important development tool in the automobile and utility vehicle industries they enable engineers to see into the future. The properties of vehicle components, such as how they respond in an accident, their reliability,...