Check out a nicely done video of the Flexconveyor—a modular conveyor element that contains its own sensors, controllers, and means of communication. Flexconveyors can be plugged into one another, and the system “just works,” like Legos. The key is decentralized control—each module contains identical operating logic, which it executes faithfully, depending on local conditions. Global behavior emerges. Near the end of the video, you’ll get a sense for where the technology is going.
Flexconveyor was developed by Stephan Mayer and Kai Furmans at the Institute for Conveying Technology and Logistics, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany.[youtube http://youtu.be/jsIDhMPalnE]