Get In Touch - cooperative decision making based on robot-to-robot collisions

Thomas Schmickl, Ronald Thenius, Christoph Möslinger, Gerald Radspieler, Serge Kernbach, Marc Szymanski, Karl Crailsheim
Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems 18 (2008), 133-155


We demonstrate the ability of a swarm of autonomous micro-robots to perform collective decision making in a dynamic environment. This decision making is an emergent property of decentralized self-organization, which results from executing a very simple bio-inspired algorithm. This algorithm allows the robotic swarm to choose from several distinct light sources in the environment and to aggregate in the area with the highest illuminance. Interestingly, these decisions are formed by the collective, although no information is exchanged by the robots. The only communicative act is the detection of robot-to-robot encounters. We studied the performance of the robotic swarm under four environmental conditions and investigated the dynamics of the aggregation behaviour as well as the flexibility and the robustness of the solutions. In summary, we can report that the tested robotic swarm showed two main characteristic features of swarm systems: it behaved flexible and the achieved solutions were very robust. This was achieved with limited individual sensor abilities and with low computational effort on each single robot in the swarm.

Photos of the expermiment's 4 phases

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