Natural swarms, such as ants and birds, can coordinate their basic behaviors into more complex ones, enabling them to carry out tasks that are impossible for lone individuals to complete. Swarm ants can construct bridges over wide spaces; termites can erect mounds up to 30 feet tall; fish congregate in shoals to avoid being eaten, and so forth.
Swarm robotics is a new area of robotic research that aims to create scalable, adaptable, and reliable systems by mimicking the group behavior exhibited by natural swarms. Self-organization, autonomy, cooperation, and coordination are all displayed by these robots. The robots are autonomously controlled by no single entity, capable of direct or indirect communication with one another (robot-to-environment).
Swarm intelligence is the concept of collective thought that enables the entire swarm to make decisions or learn as a single unit. For a swarm robotic system to most effectively implement the concept of natural swarming, it must possess several traits present in swarms in nature.
Flexibility is the key characteristic of swarm robotics since it aims to attain various tasks. The system must be able to use robot coordination and cooperation to come up with a variety of solutions for the tasks. Robots should therefore be able to adapt to the tasks and come up with solutions by working together. They ought to be able to react simultaneously to changes in their surroundings.
The systems must be scalable to function with various group sizes. Although the sizes of the robots in a swarm may vary, completing the task should still be possible and efficient regardless of the number of robots. The size of the group cannot affect how well the system works. Swarm robotic systems should therefore be able to function with various member counts. When the swarm size is small, the system should function well, and when the swarm size is large, it should encourage member coordination and cooperation.
It is said to be robust if a system can keep running despite external disturbances or internal errors. Environmental disturbances include changes in the surroundings, an increase in the number of obstacles present, changes in the weather, and other factors. Some of the system’s components have the potential to malfunction or perform poorly. Such situations must be manageable for a swarm robotic system. Individual robots in swarm robotic systems are typically very basic. They are, therefore, unable to complete any significant tasks by themselves. Therefore, losing a few robots shouldn’t impact the system’s overall performance. The tasks must continue with the same efficiency level even if one or more members are absent.
Autonomy and self-organized
Autonomous robots are those that act, respond and make decisions on their own. They can manage their behavior without a centralized authority. Robots that adapt to their surroundings and reorganize themselves are self-organizing robots. Swarm robotics’ most crucial component is self-organization. Most swarm robotic systems’ main objective is to carry out coordinated actions without needing a central controller.
Self-assembly and decentralized
The autonomous organization of robots into patterns or structures without the assistance of a human being or another central body is known as self-assembly. Swarm robotics aims to complete tasks without a central leader for various reasons, including the difficulty in controlling large swarms, the single point of failure associated with central control, and the challenge of achieving flexibility, scalability, and robustness in centralized systems, among many others.
Stigmergy is the term for indirect robotic communication. The pheromones that ants leave behind as they travel to food sources to inform other ants of information, such as the potential route to the food source, are the inspiration for this mode of communication.