Two Different Approaches to a Macroscopic Model of a Bio-Inspired Robotic Swarm

Thomas Schmickl, Heiko Hamann, Heinz Wörn, Karl Crailsheim
Robotics and Autonomous Systems 57(9) (2009), 913-921


By compiling macroscopic models we analyze the adaptive behavior in a swarm of autonomous robots generated by a bio-inspired, distributed control algorithm. We developed two macroscopic models by taking two different perspectives: A Stock & Flow model, which is simple to implement and fast to simulate, and a spatially resolved model based on diffusion processes. These two models were compared concerning their prediction quality and their analytical power: One model allowed easy identification of the major feedback loops governing the swarm behavior. The other model allowed analysis of the expected shapes and positions of observable robot clusters. We found a high correlation in the challenges posed by both modeling techniques and we highlighted the inherent problems of inferring emergent macroscopic rules from a microscopic description of swarm behavior.


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