Article

Swarm Intelligence

, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 241-266

First online:

Modelling a wireless connected swarm of mobile robots

  • Alan F. T. WinfieldAffiliated withBristol Robotics Laboratory, University of the West of England Email author 
  • , Wenguo LiuAffiliated withBristol Robotics Laboratory, University of the West of England
  • , Julien NembriniAffiliated withDistributed Intelligent Systems and Algorithms Laboratory, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
  • , Alcherio MartinoliAffiliated withDistributed Intelligent Systems and Algorithms Laboratory, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

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Abstract

It is a characteristic of swarm robotics that modelling the overall swarm behaviour in terms of the low-level behaviours of individual robots is very difficult. Yet if swarm robotics is to make the transition from the laboratory to real-world engineering realisation such models would be critical for both overall validation of algorithm correctness and detailed parameter optimisation. We seek models with predictive power: models that allow us to determine the effect of modifying parameters in individual robots on the overall swarm behaviour. This paper presents results from a study to apply the probabilistic modelling approach to a class of wireless connected swarms operating in unbounded environments. The paper proposes a probabilistic finite state machine (PFSM) that describes the network connectivity and overall macroscopic behaviour of the swarm, then develops a novel robot-centric approach to the estimation of the state transition probabilities within the PFSM. Using measured data from simulation the paper then carefully validates the PFSM model step by step, allowing us to assess the accuracy and hence the utility of the model.

Keywords

Swarm robotics Modelling Wireless ad hoc network