The Artificial Life of Bugs in a Jungle, Technical Platform

From a technical point of view, the Jungle Cube installation can be described as a collection of computer controlled elements. The computer platform for an eight channel cubic soundscape is a PowerPC computer; the rest of the elements are controlled by the LEGO MindStorms RCX computer, an Hitachi H8/3292 micro-controller embedded inside a specialised LEGO brick. Details on the RCX and RCX programming can be found in RCX Manual. Each Bug is controlled by a single RCX; the plastic straws can be moved whenever LEGO motors under the tufts are activated from an RCX-based Straw Controller. The lighting is controlled by a collection of RCX computers, each controlling three spotlights; and finally, an RCX-based Co-ordinator broadcasts infrared messages to the other RCX computers with information about the current time period: morning, day, evening or night. By means of these messages the Co-ordinator can synchronise all RCX computers with respect to time period, and hence make life happen in the Jungle, cycling though the four time periods.

The collection of computer controlled elements can be considered as a multi-agent system, each agent having their own purpose and goal. An introduction to multi-agent systems is given in the course Embedded Systems - Embodied Agents. A sequence of RCX programming lessons are included in the course schedule of that course:

Lesson1, Lesson2, Lesson3, Lesson4, Lesson5, Lesson6, Lesson7, and Lesson8.
Sound Lesson1, Sound Lesson2