Swarm Intelligence

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 115–144

Evolution of swarm robotics systems with novelty search

  • Jorge Gomes
  • Paulo Urbano
  • Anders Lyhne Christensen

DOI: 10.1007/s11721-013-0081-z

Cite this article as:
Gomes, J., Urbano, P. & Christensen, A.L. Swarm Intell (2013) 7: 115. doi:10.1007/s11721-013-0081-z


Novelty search is a recent artificial evolution technique that challenges traditional evolutionary approaches. In novelty search, solutions are rewarded based on their novelty, rather than their quality with respect to a predefined objective. The lack of a predefined objective precludes premature convergence caused by a deceptive fitness function. In this paper, we apply novelty search combined with NEAT to the evolution of neural controllers for homogeneous swarms of robots. Our empirical study is conducted in simulation, and we use a common swarm robotics task—aggregation, and a more challenging task—sharing of an energy recharging station. Our results show that novelty search is unaffected by deception, is notably effective in bootstrapping evolution, can find solutions with lower complexity than fitness-based evolution, and can find a broad diversity of solutions for the same task. Even in non-deceptive setups, novelty search achieves solution qualities similar to those obtained in traditional fitness-based evolution. Our study also encompasses variants of novelty search that work in concert with fitness-based evolution to combine the exploratory character of novelty search with the exploitatory character of objective-based evolution. We show that these variants can further improve the performance of novelty search. Overall, our study shows that novelty search is a promising alternative for the evolution of controllers for robotic swarms.


Evolutionary robotics Neuroevolution Swarm robotics Novelty search NEAT Behavioural diversity Deception 

Supplementary material

(MP4 12.1 MB)

(MP4 11.0 MB)

(MP4 15.9 MB)

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jorge Gomes
    • 1
  • Paulo Urbano
    • 2
  • Anders Lyhne Christensen
    • 3
  1. 1.LabMAgFCUL & Instituto de TelecomunicaçõesLisbonPortugal
  2. 2.LabMAgFCULLisbonPortugal
  3. 3.Instituto Universitário de Lisboa (ISCTE-IUL) & Instituto de TelecomunicaçõesLisbonPortugal

Personalised recommendations