Understanding swarming and collective motion in bacterial populations
One of the hallmarks of a cyber-physical system is the emergence of collective intelligence from the individual elements of the system. For instance, the synthesis of a decision based on multimodal sensory information from the individual nodes of a sensor network. Complex living organisms can also be considered as cyber-physical systems because their survival depends on taking the right decisions based on the collective information gathered from their sensing organs as well as possibly from their neighbours.
In this context, bacteria and similar microbes present an excellent test-bed to study how collective intelligence emerges in a biological system. Given the fact that such systems have evolved over millions of years, the methods they use for decision making and for dealing with noise may be near-optimal and may give us valuable insights in the design of non-living cyber-physical systems.