Army Taps IAI to Develop Stigmergy and State Sharing System for Achieving Collective Goals of Micro-Robot Swarms

In social insect swarms, simple individual actions lead to the emergence of highly sophisticated collective behavior, allowing the group to perform tasks ranging from shortest path discovery to nest construction. Robotics researchers are investigating the high effectiveness of these collective intelligence mechanisms to adapt them to applications where small low-powered micro-robots can be deployed in swarms. Here, group behaviors emerge when simple actions of each individual robot are integrated over a large swarm. To accomplish this, it is necessary to automatically generate a set of individual behaviors that will cause the desired collective behavior for achieving a goal to emerge within a robot swarm. IAI will develop a system for automatically generating rules that govern individual robot actions through stigmergy and state sharing (S3). Stigmergy is the indirect communication through the environment, where an individual robot determines its action simply based on the observed actions of nearby robots. State sharing allows each robot to update its state based on the states of nearby robots; in turn, state affects which stigmergic rules are applied, allowing for effective coordination in both space and time. S3 will generate stigmergic and state sharing rules for achieving a wide range of swarm goals, and can make robotic capabilities more robust, while decreasing the need for direct operation of robotic assets. S3 can be used within the Communications Electronics Research Development and Engineering Center’s (CERDEC’S) Mission Command for Autonomous Systems (MCAS) program, and other DoD robotics programs. S3 has promising applications in the areas of military reconnaissance, dynamic network formation and force protection, and in automated control of multi-robotic unmanned vehicle systems, search and rescue, border security, police operations, education and gaming.