An RSS-based method for path navigation in miniature robotic swarms


Swarm robots are designed with very limited sensing and computing capabilities to reduce the robots’ cost without sacrificing their functionality. These limited capabilities make it necessary to develop algorithms and methodologies to enable the robots to perform tasks such as tracking, following, or even navigating a path. This paper addresses the particular problem of a robot navigating a path specified by stationary beacon robots. We suggest a method that combines the radio signal strength with trigonometry to achieve an effective path navigation methodology. The performance analysis shows that the robot travels on average (1.5N + 1) segments to complete a path lined up by N beacons as opposed to 2.5N segments when using the traditional tracking algorithm.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9


  1. 1.

    Batalin MA, Sukhatme GS, Hattig M (2004) Mobile robot navigation using a sensor network. In: International conference on robotics and automation, ICRA 2004., vol 1, pp 636–641

  2. 2.

    Bonabeau E, Dorigo M, Theraulaz G (1999) Swarm intelligence: from natural to artificial systems. Oxford University Press, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Deshpande N, Grant E, Draelos M, Henderson TC (2014) Received signal strength based bearing-only robot navigation in a sensor network field. In: IEEE/RSJ international conference on intelligent robots and systems, 2014., pp 4618–4623

  4. 4.

    El-Howayek G, Morrison A, Khorbotly S An rss-based method for path navigation in miniature robotic swarms.

  5. 5.

    Grabowski R, Khosla P (2001) Localization techniques for a team of small robots. In: IEEE/RSJ international conference on intelligent robots and systems. Expanding the societal role of robotics in the the next millennium (2001)., vol 2, pp 1067–1072

  6. 6.

    Hoff N (2011) Multi-robot foraging for swarms of simple robots. Ph.D. thesis.

  7. 7.

    Hoff NR, Sagoff A, Wood RJ, Nagpal R (2010) Two foraging algorithms for robot swarms using only local communication. In: IEEE international conference on robotics and biomimetics, pp 123–130.

  8. 8.

    Hougen DF, Benjaafar S, Bonney JC, Budenske JR, Dvorak M, Gini M, French H, Krantz DG, Li PY, Malver F, Nelson B, Papanikolopoulos N, Rybski PE, Stoeter SA, Voyles R, Yesin KB (2000) A miniature robotic system for reconnaissance and surveillance. In: IEEE international conference on robotics and automation, ICRA 2000

  9. 9.

    Khorbotly S, El-Howayek G, Morrison A, Roggow A (2017) An rss-based triangulation method for robot tracking in robotic swarms. In: International conference on manipulation, automation and robotics at small scales (MARSS 2017), pp 1–5.

  10. 10.

    Kolling A, Walker P, Chakraborty N, Sycara K, Lewis M (2016) Human interaction with robot swarms: a survey. IEEE Transactions on Human-Machine Systems 46(1):9–26.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Krentz T, Greenhagen C, Roggow A, Desmond D, Khorbotly S (2015) A modified ant colony optimization algorithm for implementation on multi-core robots. In: 2015 Swarm/human blended intelligence workshop (SHBI), pp 1–6.

  12. 12.

    Liu Y, HF, Chen J (2006) Multi-robot cooperation coalition formation based on genetic algorithm. In: 2006 international conference on machine learning and cybernetics, pp 85–88.

  13. 13.

    Mondada F, Bonani M, Raemy X, Pugh J, Cianci C, Klaptocz A, Magnenat S, Zufferey JC, Floreano D, Martinoli A (2009) The e-puck, a robot designed for education in engineering. In: Gonçalves P, Torres P, Alves C (eds) Proceedings of the 9th conference on autonomous robot systems and competitions, vol 1. IPCB:InstitutoPolitécnicodeCasteloBranco, Portugal

  14. 14.

    Mondada F, Pettinaro GC, Guignard A, Kwee IW, Floreano D, Deneubourg JL, Nolfi S, Gambardella LM, Dorigo M (2004) Swarm-bot: a new distributed robotic concept. Autonomous Robots 17(2):193–221.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Palanisamy P (2013) Efficient way of path planning and navigation for autonomous multi robot systems using an intelligent vision system. In: IEEE 8th international conference on industrial and information systems, 2013, pp 350–354.

  16. 16.

    Rubenstein M, Ahler C, Nagpal R (2012) Kilobot: a low cost scalable robot system for collective behaviors. In: IEEE international conference on robotics and automation, pp 3293–3298.

  17. 17.

    Rubenstein M, Cornejo A, Nagpal R (2014) Programmable self-assembly in a thousand-robot swarm. Science 345(6198):795–799.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Twigg JN, Fink JR, Yu PL, Sadler BM (2012) Rss gradient-assisted frontier exploration and radio source localization. In: IEEE international conference on robotics and automation, 2012, pp 889–895.

  19. 19.

    Wang Z, Li M, Dou L, Li Y, Zhao Q, Li J (2015) A novel multi-objective artificial bee colony algorithm for multi-robot path planning. In: 2015 IEEE international conference on information and automation, pp 481–486.

  20. 20.

    Zhang Y, Zeng L, Li Y, Liu Q (2009) Multi-robot formation control using leader-follower for manet. In: IEEE international conference on robotics and biomimetics (ROBIO 2009), pp 337–342.

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Georges El-Howayek.

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

(MP4 4.20 MB)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

El-Howayek, G., Morrison, A. & Khorbotly, S. An RSS-based method for path navigation in miniature robotic swarms. J Micro-Bio Robot 15, 23–30 (2019).

Download citation


  • Swarm robot
  • Miniature robot
  • Path navigation
  • Robot tracking