How did the robots “learn” this from fish? Nissan’s engineers studied how schools of fish, such as sardines, swim in dense formations while avoiding running into obstacles or each other.
Generally speaking, fish recognize their surroundings both through sight and their "lateral line” sense, enabled by pores along their body that can detect movement, vibration and pressure variations in the water around them. To mimic this, Eporo uses ultra-wide band communication technology and a laser range finder, which play the roles of sight and lateral line sense, respectively.
As multiple Eporo robots travel together, they use the ultra-wide band communication technology to transmit and receive signals from each other, exchanging information about their position, speed and orientation, while distance is calculated based on the signals’ round-trip time. At the same time, each unit’s laser range finder emits a beam to measure the distance to various obstacles.
As a result, the robot formation can freely change its shape and travel safely and efficiently in a variety of environments. Using their sensors, they can move smoothly around corners, navigate roads that narrow suddenly, and avoid obstacles. When encountering a bottleneck, the robots can continue to move forward while maintaining an appropriate distance.