Natural Computing

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 225–245 | Cite as

A self-adaptive communication strategy for flocking in stationary and non-stationary environments

  • Eliseo FerranteEmail author
  • Ali Emre Turgut
  • Alessandro Stranieri
  • Carlo Pinciroli
  • Mauro Birattari
  • Marco Dorigo


We propose a self-adaptive communication strategy for controlling the heading direction of a swarm of mobile robots during flocking. We consider the problem where a small group of informed robots has to guide a large swarm along a desired direction. We consider three versions of this problem: one where the desired direction is fixed; one where the desired direction changes over time; one where a second group of informed robots has information about a second desired direction that conflicts with the first one, but has higher priority. The goal of the swarm is to follow, at all times, the desired direction that has the highest priority and, at the same time, to keep cohesion. The proposed strategy allows the informed robots to guide the swarm when only one desired direction is present. Additionally, a self-adaptation mechanism allows the robots to indirectly sense the second desired direction, and makes the swarm follow it. In experiments with both simulated and real robots, we evaluate how well the swarm tracks the desired direction and how well it maintains cohesion. We show that, using self-adaptive communication, the swarm is able to follow the desired direction with the highest priority at all times without splitting.


Flocking Communication Self-adaptation Self-organization Swarm intelligence Swarm robotics 



This work was partially supported by the European Union through the ERC Advanced Grant “E-SWARM: Engineering Swarm Intelligence Systems” (contract 246939) and the Future and Emerging Technologies project ASCENS and by the Vlaanderen Research Foundation Flanders (Flemish Community of Belgium) through the H2Swarm project. The information provided is the sole responsibility of the authors and does not reflect the European Commission’s opinion. The European Commission is not responsible for any use that might be made of data appearing in this publication. Mauro Birattari, and Marco Dorigo acknowledge support from the F.R.S.-FNRS of Belgium’s French Community, of which they are a Research Associate and a Research Director, respectively.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eliseo Ferrante
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Ali Emre Turgut
    • 3
  • Alessandro Stranieri
    • 1
  • Carlo Pinciroli
    • 1
  • Mauro Birattari
    • 1
  • Marco Dorigo
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.IRIDIA, CoDEUniversité Libre de BruxellesBrusselsBelgium
  2. 2.Laboratory of Socioecology and Social EvolutionKatholieke Universiteit LeuvenLouvainBelgium
  3. 3.Mechatronics DepartmentTHK UniversityEtimesgutTurkey
  4. 4.Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of PaderbornPaderbornGermany

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