2The Global Architecture of an Autonomous System

2.1. Introduction

We consider a system that is made of numerous elements pertaining to various fields, which is in a continuous reorganization state. The elements that compose the system strongly interact with each other, conforming to rules that specify the local and global actions of the system on itself and its environment. Such a system is considered open because it communicates with its environment systematically, gathering and expressing information continuously. The essential function of some of its components is therefore to communicate back and forth with the environment. In this chapter, we start with presenting the physical, hardware layer of an autonomous system. It is made of electronic or mechanical elements that constitute the system’s corporeity. Some of them can also be specific informational applications. The global system appreciates their situations so that it is able to organize them in structures at another scale and consider them as organs or parts of organs.

2.2. Reactivity of a system

The notion of reactivity that we introduce here is in clear contrast with that of autonomy. The most common systems are reactive, considered as tools to perform well-defined actions. A reactive informational system reacts in the most appropriate way to external stimuli, according to an unvarying, predetermined plan. The diagram of a reactive system (see Figure 2.1) should be compared to those of autonomous systems, which ...

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