logo fp7 coop FP 7 ICT project no. 217148 - SF


The single overarching goal of the SF consortium is to identify the neuronal, cognitive and behavioural principles underlying optimal foraging in rodents and to implement these principles in a real-world foraging artefact or the Synthetic Forager (SF.01). SF.01 constitutes a novel biologically based cognitive technology for autonomous exploration and foraging in real-world man-made indoor and outdoor environments. SF exploits our growing understanding of exploration and foraging behaviour in rodents, advances current theories of the neuronal and behavioural organization of foraging and transfers this understanding towards the construction of novel realworld synthetic cognitive technologies.

The behaviour and neurophysiology of foraging will be studied in rodents behaving in automatically controlled multi-modal environments. The physical features of these environments can be fully controlled in real-time in relation to the behavioural and/or physiological state of the animal using an advanced experimental technology developed by the consortium. The overall integration of the perceptual, cognitive and behavioural control systems of SF will be accomplished using a well established robot based cognitive architecture, called Distributed Adaptive Control (DAC) further informed by the formal analysis of rodent foraging. The perceptual, cognitive and behavioural control systems of SF will be based on statistical analysis and detailed game theoretic models of the behavioural and neurophysiological data. The SF control systems are validated against the behavioural and physiological data. The SF phenotype comprises a high-mobility robotic platform equipped with visual, auditory, olfactory and tactile sensors. The SF will be evaluated in a number of stringent benchmarks ranging from robot equivalents of rodent foraging tasks to simulated de-mining.

Although the goal of the project is to demonstrate the SF technology for autonomous exploration and foraging, we expect that the approach and technologies developed in SF will have long-term implications to a number of other application areas including: cleaning robots, search and rescue systems, terrestrial and planetary exploration, delivery systems, autonomous transportation systems, military intelligence and battle field information control systems, environmental monitoring, internet information analysis and retrieval, information and communication networks and humanitarian de-mining.