"If the air vehicle sees something, then the ground vehicles are aware of it and will decide whether to investigate," explains Grocholsky. "Each robot has an idea of what it thinks is going on, in terms of probabilities of a target being in a particular place."
The researchers hope this distributed model will scale up easily, so that large networks of many different robots, sensors and even humans could be patched into a team.
"A key advantage of this approach is the way the information available to the robots is anonymised," says Grocholsky. There is no need for complicated coordination of the different elements of the team – each just uses any information it gets to help with its own goals.