Monday, April 13, 2015

Hardware for Swarm Robotics

Collective behavior that emerges from the interactions between agents and with the environment are one of the most prominent examples of self-organizing systems. The field of swarm robotics allows to research and engineer such collective behavior. However to do this, there is the need for small cost-effective swarmbots. 

The table below lists a number of robots used in real experiments in the field of swarm robotics. It shows the most important parameters and information about the robots simplifying comparison between them. For more detailed description there are links (right after the robots' names) to websites or articles exhibiting specifications or conducted experiments.
RobotCostLocomotionSpeed (cm/s)Size (cm)Battery life (hours)Communication
Jasmine[1,2]$118wheelsN/A2.6x2.6x2.61-2RF, IR
E-puck[1,2]$850wheels13∅71-10Bluetooth, ZigBee
R-one[1,2]$322wheels30 cm/s∅106RF, IR
JL-2[1]N/Atracks 2035x25x152Wi-Fi
Khepera IV[1, 2]$2700wheels 100∅144-7Wi-Fi, Bluetooth

One of the first questions, coming up in the beginning of a project concerning swarm robotics, is money. Conducting real experiments with dozens of robots require high investments to buy all needed hardware and software. The price of the robots varies greatly that depends on a number of sensors and actuators, quality of a robot's frame, and demand for a particular robot. Unfortunately, the price of some robots is not specified. The most of these robots have an open-source design and code so they can be built from scratch in case there is such a need.

The table shows that the majority of the robots are differential drive robots whose movement is based on two wheels placed on either side of the robot. It allows achieving higher speed and precisely controlling the direction of movement. However, there are also some disadvantages, such as a need for a prepared surface without pits and bumps. Robots using the tracks usually can move on the unprepared surface, which facilitates a preparation for experiments and demonstrations. A unique type of locomotion is vibration (check the Kilobot robot) which tends to be slow and imprecise way of movement. It also requires a special smooth surface.

Size matters in the field of swarm robotics. A swarm consists of a large number of individuals which are quite effective in performing of important tasks for surviving of the colony. A significant number of robots is important in order to reproduce the swarm behavior or to check a hypothesis.

Unlike individuals in the real swarms, robots cannot generate energy from organics and still require a source of energy such as a battery. The working time of a robot depends on the capacity of battery and the amount of sensor and actuators using by a robot in experiments. Some of the robots have charging stations (e.g. Elisa, Jasmine) which may be useful in conducting of long-term experiments. The marXbot goes even further supporting exchange of the battery in less than 10 seconds without shutting down the power.

Communication in swarm robotics can play a crucial role while the effectiveness of the whole colony depends on how well the robots can send and receive messages. There are two types of communication: abstract (e.g. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ZigBee, RF) and situated (e.g. IR). Both of them work well for messages exchange, but situated communication provides additional information about the sender and the message, e.g. strength of the signal and its direction.

The choice of the robot depends on experiments where it will be used. Select the most important features of the future research and pick a robot that fits best.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Call for Papers Ninth IEEE International Conference on Self-Adaptive and Self-Organizing Systems (SASO 2015)

 The Ninth IEEE International Conference on Self-Adaptive and Self-Organizing Systems (SASO 2015)

Boston Massachusetts; 21-25 September 2015

Part of FAS* - Foundation and Applications of Self* Computing Conferences

Colocated with:

Aims and Scope aim of the Self-Adaptive and Self-Organizing systems conference series (SASO) is to provide a forum for the foundations of a principled approach to engineering systems, networks and services based on self-adaptation and self-organization. The complexity of current and emerging networks, software and services, especially in dealing with dynamics in the environment and problem domain, has led the software engineering, distributed systems and management communities to look for inspiration in diverse fields (e.g., complex systems, control theory, artificial intelligence, sociology, and biology) to find new ways of designing and managing such computing systems. In this endeavor, self-organization and self-adaptation have emerged as two promising interrelated approaches. They form the basis for many other self-* properties, such as self-configuration, self-healing, or self-optimization. Systems exhibiting such properties are often referred to as self-* systems.

The ninth edition of the SASO conference embraces the inter-disciplinarity and the scientific, empirical, and application dimensions of self-* systems and welcomes novel results on both self-adaptive and self-organizing systems research. The topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Self-* systems theory: theoretical frameworks and models; biologically- and socially-inspired paradigms; inter-operation of self-* mechanisms;
  • Self-* systems engineering: reusable mechanisms, design patterns, architectures, methodologies; software and middleware development frameworks and methods, platforms and toolkits; hardware; self-* materials;
  • Self-* system properties: robustness, resilience and stability; emergence; computational awareness and self-awareness; reflection;
  • Self-* cyber-physical and socio-technical systems: human factors and visualization; self-* social computers; crowdsourcing and collective awareness; human-in-the-loop;
  • Applications and experiences of self-* systems: cyber security, transportation, computational sustainability, big data and creative commons, power systems; swarm systems and robotics.
  • Self-* in education: experience reports; curricula; innovative course concepts; methodological aspects of self-* systems education

Contributions must present novel theoretical or experimental results; novel design patterns, mechanisms, system architectures, frameworks or tools; or practical approaches and experiences in building or deploying real-world systems and applications. Contributions contrasting different approaches for engineering a given family of systems, or demonstrating the applicability of a certain approach for different systems, are equally encouraged. Likewise, papers describing substantial innovation or insights in the use and communication of self-* systems in the classroom are welcome.

Where relevant and appropriate, accepted papers will also be encouraged to participate in the Demo or Poster Sessions.

Important Dates

Abstract submission: May 8, 2015
Paper submission: May 22, 2015 (There will be no extensions of this deadline)
Notification: June 30, 2015
Camera ready copy due: July 17, 2015
Conference: September 21-25, 2015

Submission Instructions

All submissions should be 10 pages and formatted according to the IEEE Computer Society Press proceedings style guide and submitted electronically in PDF format.
Please register as authors and submit your papers using the SASO 2015 conference management system, which is located at:

The proceedings will be published by IEEE Computer Society Press, and made available as a part of the IEEE digital library. Note that a separate call for poster submissions has also been issued.
Review Criteria

Papers should present novel ideas in the cross-disciplinary research context described in this call, clearly motivated by problems from current practice or applied research.

We expect both theoretical and empirical contributions to be clearly stated, substantiated by formal analysis, simulation, experimental evaluations, comparative studies, and so on. Appropriate reference must be made to related work. Because SASO is a cross-disciplinary conference, papers must be intelligible and relevant to researchers who are not members of the same specialized sub-field. Authors are also encouraged to submit papers describing applications. Application papers are expected to provide an indication of the real world relevance of the problem that is solved, including a description of the deployment domain, and some form of evaluation of performance, usability, or comparison to alternative approaches. Experience papers are also welcome, but they must clearly state the insight into any aspect of design, implementation or management of self-* systems which is of benefit to practitioners and the SASO community

Conference General Chairs

  • Howard E. Shrobe, MIT CSAIL, Cambridge, MA, USA
  • Julie A. McCann, Imperial College London, UK

Program Chairs

  • Emma Hart, Edinburgh Napier University
  • Gregory Sullivan, BAE Systems AIT
  • Jan-Philipp Steghöfer, University of Gothenburg, Sweden