Braitenberg Vehicle 1
August 30th, 2005 — Lawrence, KS
Valentino Braitenberg’s "Vehicle 1" is a simple device that has a sensor and a motor and its simple behavior is to propel itself forward with a speed relative to the source that the sensor is designed to detect. For instance, if the sensor is tuned to detect temperature, then the motor will drive the vehicle proportionately to the temperature that is detected, slowing down in cold regions and speeding up where it is warm (where warm is indicated by red and cool indicated with blue). According to Figure 1 in the text, the motion is always forward, or linear, except for perturbations.
As programmed, the speed of the vehicle is inversely proportionate to its size. Each vehicle travels in a basically linear path with random variation added, again in proportion to its size.
Behavioral Observations: It appears that these vehicles prefer a cold atmosphere because they spend more time there and appear to run away from heat. This could be because the system is closed; in actuality the heat just makes them run faster, but the vehicles really have no idea if they are running toward or away from heat. So if the system were open, that is to say there were no boundaries, and the heated areas were just as plentiful as the cool areas, then there would be an equal probability that the vehicle would spend its time in either region. This concept relates to Brownian Motion. However, given equal region area, I believe over any finite time interval, any given vehicle would spend most of its time in the cold atmosphere.