Bootstrapped motion of an agent on an adaptive resource landscape

Trung V. Phan, Gao Wang, Liyu Liu, Robert H. Austin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


We theoretically show that isolated agents that locally and symmetrically consume resources and sense positive resource gradients can generate constant motion via bootstrapped resource gradients in the absence of any externally imposed gradients, and we show a realization of this motion using robots. This self-generated agent motion can be coupled with neighboring agents to act as a spontaneously broken symmetry seed for emergent collective dynamics. We also show that in a sufficiently weak externally imposed gradient, it is possible for an agent to move against an external resource gradient due to the local resource depression on the landscape created by an agent. This counter-intuitive boot-strapped motion against an external gradient is demonstrated with a simple robot system on an light-emitting diode (LED) light-board.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number225
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Chemistry (miscellaneous)
  • General Mathematics
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


  • Adaptive interactions
  • Boot-strap
  • Mathematical biology
  • Robotics
  • Symmetry breaking


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