61349BEAM colony trails idea
- Jun 2, 2014
Here's an idea I've been toying with: magnetic line following Herbie-esque rovers that use a combination of mono and stereo cassette tape heads to create and follow magnetically defined paths on a magnetic surface. In scouting mode -- looking for energy hotspots, say -- the Herbie follows its light sensors while simultaneously laying down a full-width mono track of pulses related to its mission. The idea is to get a constant linear spacing between pulses so the number of pulses per wheel revolution stays more or less the same. A slower Herbie would expect to "read" lower pulse frequencies and vice versa.
In tracking mode the stereo head provides left & right signals to follow an existing magnetic path. A scout would switch to this mode after executing a 180 degree turn. The scout would have recorded bursts of, say, two pulses with a delay of twenty pulse times between bursts on the outbound trip. On return from a successful foraging mission, the scout would read and rewrite each pulse successively, then lay down an additional pulse to reinforce the trail. Every successful trip thus adds a new pulse to the bursts along the path until the pulse bursts merge to one continuous pulse train.
On failed trips (where energy was no longer available at the terminus) the Herbie does the opposite by not rewriting the last pulse, thus allowing the path to decay after a number of such trips have been made.
One problem I haven't figured an easy solution for is what sort of magnetic material to use for the running surface. I 'spose I could glue down stripes of VHS tape side by side on a substrate, but that seems like a pain.
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