Swarm Robotics - Definition


The research of swarm robotics is to study the design of robots, their physical body and their controlling behaviors. It is inspired but not limited by the emergent behavior observed in social insects, called swarm intelligence. Relatively simple individual rules can produce a large set of complex swarm behaviors. A key-component is the communication between the members of the group that build a system of constant feedback. The swarm behavior involves constant change of individuals in cooperation with others, as well as the behavior of the whole group.

Unlike distributed robotic systems in general, swarm robotics emphasizes a large number of robots, and promotes scalability, for instance by using only local communication. That local communication for example can be achieved by wireless transmission systems, like radio frequency or infrared.

Video tracking is an essential tool for systematically studying swarm-behavior, even though other tracking methods are available. Recently Bristol robotics laboratory developed an ultrasonic position tracking system for swarm research purposes. Further research is needed to find methodologies that allow the design and reliable prediction of swarm behavior when only the features of the individual swarm members are given.

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