Container flow through LaSpezia managed by Artificial Ants
Artificial Ants (AAs)
communicate via artificial pheromones that evaporate over time.
To solve complex optimization problems,
Schmidhuber's fellow co-director
Luca Maria Gambardella
(IDSIA) and Marco Dorigo
(ex-IDSIA, now professor in Belgium)
introduced AAs equipped with local search methods. This approach
broke several important benchmark world records,
including those for
routing problems (essential for vehicle routing, internet routing,
routing in ad-hoc networks, and so on).
Check out some of the numerous
at Google Scholar.
This success led to a recent IDSIA spin-off company called ANTOPTIMA.
Commercial applications include vehicle routing,
logistics for the largest Mediterranean container
terminal in LaSpezia, and truck fleet
management (the largest Swiss retailer is now using AAs to
distribute its goods).
IDSIA's Swarm Intelligence and Artificial Ants have made quite an impact.
Nowadays there are specialized AA conferences, and there have been
numerous AA overviews in renowned
science journals such as NATURE (e.g., 406(6791):39-42) and
SCIENCE and SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN (cover story),
and also in the popular press, including TIME magazine,
der SPIEGEL, the Economist (see article of August 2010),
and many others.