Bio-inspired Role Allocation of Heterogeneous Teams in a Site Defense Task

  • Laura StricklandEmail author
  • Kaitlin Baudier
  • Kenneth Bowers
  • Theodore P. Pavlic
  • Charles Pippin
Conference paper
Part of the Springer Proceedings in Advanced Robotics book series (SPAR, volume 9)


We consider here the use of heterogeneous UAV swarms to defend a high-value target. We gain inspiration from the guarding system used by colonies of Tetragonisca angustula bees, which uses both high-cost hovering guards and low-cost standing guards to protect within-nest resources from theft by their own and other species (con- and heterospecific invaders, respectively). Hovering guards discern heterospecifics from conspecifics, and standing guards discern conspecific invaders from nestmates. Using a value-based multi-agent simulation, we find that, when heterospecific invaders deduct much more value from the defended resources than conspecifics, a heterogeneous defense force preserves value most effectively. Consequently, when facing heterogeneous invaders, focus should be on building effective mixtures of heterogeneous defensive agents instead of enhancing capabilities of homogeneous robotic swarms. Our results also contribute to better understanding T. angustula’s guarding system.



This work was supported by DARPA under the Bio-Inspired Swarming seedling project, contract FA8651-17-F-1013.

The authors would like to thank Dr. Jon Harrison of Arizona State University (ASU) for his assistance in estimating T. angustula metabolic rates, and him, Meghan Duell (ASU), and Dr. David Roubik of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute for the raw data [6] used to make those estimations.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura Strickland
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kaitlin Baudier
    • 2
  • Kenneth Bowers
    • 1
  • Theodore P. Pavlic
    • 2
    • 3
  • Charles Pippin
    • 1
  1. 1.Georgia Tech Research Institute, Georgia Institute of TechnologyAtlantaGeorgia
  2. 2.School of Life SciencesArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  3. 3.School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems EngineeringArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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