Control of Distributed Autonomous Systems – How to Get a Swarm to Succeed over an Overwhelming Challenge

  • Josef von StackelbergEmail author
Part of the Studies in Computational Intelligence book series (SCI, volume 391)


Since Frank Schätzing has published his novel "The Swarm" in 2006, management coaches use it as an image how to guide a heterogeneous group of individuals to be successful, as employees in a company (branch), as team members in a project etc. Thereby they like to neglect that strong rules and control are necessary to keep many individuals on track to pursue one certain and well defined aim.

In principle, there is not much of a difference between the control of distributed autonomous technical systems and the guidance of distributed autonomous individuals which both are expected to achieve an aim, e.g. to produce some complex machine within a certain time as a multi-controlled robot system or to develop a complex new electronic module with a multi-skilled project team.

While engineers know how to define their technical models to describe the distributed functions and their interactions of the complex robot, in management trainings the models which shall describe the "functions" of a team or staff member seem to miss the amount of diversity of individual interests and capabilities, which are the most important factors to prevent a group of people from being successful.

The intention to write this paper is, to show that the electrical rules how to engineer a well-operating control of distributed autonomous systems can be transported into a different kind of engineer’s work: The management of teams and staffs.

Summary. When Jesus Christ gathered his Apostles, he promised Simon and Andreas, who were fisher men, in the application interview, to make man-fishers out of them [1]. Within the development of a career, an engineer also has to become a man or a woman who treats with people instead of machines and technical modules, who has to calculate with human skills instead of specified attributes of a component. Although it looks different to be a well-skilled engineer or a manager, there are quite a lot of similarities during daily life, and the technical models which have been learned during the engineer’s studies are also valid when leading a team to a project success.

To consider it from this point of view, a project team is a number of distributed autonomous systems, a swarm of individuals, which have to be interconnected to be successful as a system rsp. as a team.


Team Member Project Manager Autonomous System Project Team Task Management 
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    The New Testament, Gospel according to Markus, ch. 1, Verse 17Google Scholar
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    Bohinc, T.: Grundlagen des Projektmanagements. Gabal Verlag, Offenbach (2010)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Enzyklopädie, B.: 19. Auflage, 19. Band. F.A. Brockhaus, Mannheim (1992)Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.BaunachGermany

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