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Journal cover: International Journal of Intelligent Computing and Cybernetics

International Journal of Intelligent Computing and Cybernetics

ISSN: 1756-378X

Online from: 2008

Subject Area: Electrical & Electronic Engineering

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Emerging robot swarm traffic

Document Information:
Title:Emerging robot swarm traffic
Author(s):Jacques Penders, (Materials and Engineering Research Institute, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK), Lyuba Alboul, (Materials and Engineering Research Institute, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK)
Citation:Jacques Penders, Lyuba Alboul, (2012) "Emerging robot swarm traffic", International Journal of Intelligent Computing and Cybernetics, Vol. 5 Iss: 3, pp.312 - 339
Keywords:Intelligent sensors, Robotics, Sensors and visibility, Swarm robotics, Traffic flow, Traffic patterns
Article type:Research paper
DOI:10.1108/17563781211255871 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Acknowledgements:The authors wish to acknowledge partial financial support from the European Union through the Guardians project (IST-045269).

Purpose – This paper aims to discuss traffic patterns generated by swarms of robots while commuting to and from a base station.

Design/methodology/approach – The paper adopts a mathematical evaluation and robot swarm simulation. The swarm approach is bottom-up: designing individual agents the authors are looking for emerging group behaviour patterns. Examples of group behaviour patterns are human-driven motorized traffic which is rigidly structured in two lanes, while army ants develop a three-lane pattern in their traffic. The authors copy army ant characteristics onto their robots and investigate whether the three lane traffic pattern may emerge. They follow a three-step approach. The authors first investigate the mathematics and geometry of cases occurring when applying the artificial potential field method to three “perfect” robots. Any traffic pattern (two, three or more lanes) appears to be possible. Next, they use the mathematical cases to study the impact of limited visibility by defining models of sensor designs. In the final step the authors implement ant inspired sensor models and a trail following mechanism on the robots in the swarm and explore which traffic patterns do emerge in open space as well as in bounded roads.

Findings – The study finds that traffic lanes emerge in the swarm traffic; however the number of lanes is dependent on the initial situation and environmental conditions. Intrinsically the applied robot models do not determine a specific number of traffic lanes.

Originality/value – The paper presents a method for studying and simulating robot swarms.

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