back to article Spanish Army builds ant-colony AI conquistador algorithm

Spanish computer researchers and army officers say they have developed an algorithm based on the behaviour of ant colonies which can plot "the best path" through battlefields for manoeuvring troops. The general-ware has apparently been tested in a "mini-simulator" developed by modifying the computer game Panzer General. The AI …


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  1. Mark McNeill

    All together now:

    I, for one, welcome our new insect conquistadors.

  2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  3. The Librarian


    Anthill Inside?

  4. Red Bren

    Out of cheese error?

    +++ Redo from start +++

  5. MinionZero

    @Mark McNeill

    Nobody expected to welcome our new insectoid Spanish Inquisitors!

  6. Mike Shepherd


    Calm down dear. It's only pure mathematicians playing with an idea.

    Real battles involve several factors which eclipse even the "perfect" algorithm. Napoleon didn't spend his time worrying that his planning problems were N-P complete.

  7. Tom_


    So is this any better than using A*?

  8. Ian Ferguson

    I thought the Americans had figured this one out years ago... bombing the fuck out of the battlefield to allow their troops to stomp over it safely while shouting 'Hut! Hut! Hut!' in a manly manner

  9. jjmerelo
    Thumb Up

    A few more details


    I'm one of the guys involved in this. We've prepared a small executive resume at our group blog:

    Of course, there's no big deal in this, other that quite a lot of work done with not a lot of funding. For those not acquainted with ant colony algorithms, or algorithms for that matter, the basic idea is to try and work out a way to get a military unit safe and sound to a destination point by creating a method inspired on how ant colonies work: throw a lot of ants to a food source, drop pheromones on your way back and forth, and mostly try to follow those paths that have been already followed. That method, that works quite well in Nature, has been expanded a bit and tested on simulated scenarios, with natural obstacles, more or less bad guys shooting, and so forth.

    For those already acquainted with ant colony algorithms, we have created a new version that is able to deal with several objectives at the same time: try to be fast, stealth, low-maintenance, and if possible avoid casualties. You can get a copy of our papers from the usual databases, google Scholar, and if everything fails, drop us an email.


    JJ Merelo

  10. Gaius

    Hang on a second

    Spain has an army!?

  11. jjmerelo

    And a presentation for those interested

    Which I gave a couple of years ago at the University of Nottingham, in case anyone is interested: It's in OpenOffice format, and it weighs in 18 megs. License is CC-by-sa.



  12. ian 22


    Did your group include the "fried by a giant magnifying glass" scenario? Or the even more likely "stepped on by a huge boot" situation?

    Not that it matters much, there is a reason why red ants' scientific name is S. Invicta (invicta = Latin for "undefeated").

    Best of luck with the hormigoid tactics.

  13. jjmerelo

    @Gaius : didn't you read the friggin' article?

    It's an army of ants, with an air corps composed entirely of flies!


  14. Aitor 1 Silver badge


    I guess you won't mind if I post this to portierramaryaire..

  15. jjmerelo

    There's a Spanish version

    @Aitor: of course I don't, but you might prefer the Spanish version (which did the press rounds a time ago).

  16. Jason Croghan
    Thumb Down this day and age?

    When was the last time there was a 'battlefield' worth worrying about traversing? These days battles are fought with unmanned vehicles and aircraft, well, whatevers left after the bombs anyway...

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