A Review of Biological Communication Mechanisms Applicable to Small Autonomous Systems

Report No. ARL-TR-5340
Authors: Kesshi Jordan, Daniel Calderone, Alexandra Rubin, and Alma E. Wickenden
Date/Pages: September 2010; 108 pages
Abstract: The field of biomimetics has grown in recent years as interest in using biology as an inspiration for technology has grown. Biology constantly optimizes mechanisms, materials, and integrated systems through natural selection. These systems and materials can be incorporated into a variety of applications, using the technology that nature has already developed as a launch point for novel solutions to engineering problems. Nature's mechanisms accomplish a variety of sensory, communications, and processing functions in low signal-to-noise ratio environments on the millimeter- to centimeter-scale, using very limited amounts of power. Many of these biological analogs function more reliably and are more sophisticated than the engineered systems that current technology can provide. This survey of selected biological analogs for low-power communication suggests mechanisms that biology has used to communicate and that could be realized in millimeter- to centimeter-scale engineered autonomous systems, with the objective of providing biomimetic inspiration for future technologies.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: September 1, 2010