Division of Labour in Self-organised Groups

  • Roderich Groß
  • Shervin Nouyan
  • Michael Bonani
  • Francesco Mondada
  • Marco Dorigo
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 5040)


In social insect colonies, many tasks are performed by higher-order entities, such as groups and teams whose task solving capacities transcend those of the individual participants. In this paper, we investigate the emergence of such higher-order entities using a colony of up to 12 physical robots. We report on an experimental study in which the robots engage in a range of different activities, including exploration, path formation, recruitment, self-assembly and group transport. Once the robots start interacting with each other and with their environment, they self-organise into teams in which distinct roles are performed concurrently. The system displays a dynamical hierarchy of teamwork, the cooperating elements of which comprise higher-order entities. The study shows that teamwork requires neither individual recognition nor inter-individual differences, and as such might contribute to the ongoing debate on the role of such characteristics for the division of labour in social insects.


cooperation division of labour foraging group transport hierarchy path formation self-organisation swarm robotics teamwork 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roderich Groß
    • 1
  • Shervin Nouyan
    • 2
  • Michael Bonani
    • 1
  • Francesco Mondada
    • 1
  • Marco Dorigo
    • 2
  1. 1.LSROEcole Polytechnique Fédérale de LausanneLausanneSwitzerland
  2. 2.IRIDIA, CoDEUniversité Libre de BruxellesBrusselsBelgium

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