Distributed Autonomous Robotic Systems

Volume 83 of the series Springer Tracts in Advanced Robotics pp 431-444

On Fault Tolerance and Scalability of Swarm Robotic Systems

  • Jan Dyre BjerknesAffiliated withBristol Robotics Laboratory, University of the West of England Email author 
  • , Alan F. T. WinfieldAffiliated withBristol Robotics Laboratory, University of the West of England

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This paper challenges the common assumption that swarm robotic systems are robust and scalable by default. We present an analysis based on both reliability modelling and experimental trials of a case study swarm performing team work, in which failures are deliberately induced. Our case study has been carefully chosen to represent a swarm task in which the overall desired system behaviour is an emergent property of the interactions between robots, in order that we can assess the fault tolerance of a self-organising system. Our findings show that in the presence of worst-case partially failed robots the overall system reliability quickly falls with increasing swarm size. We conclude that future large scale swarm systems will need a new approach to achieving high levels of fault tolerance.