The swarm intelligence paradigm has proven to have very interesting properties such as robustness, flexibility and ability to solve complex problems exploiting parallelism and self-organization. Several robotics implementations of this paradigm confirm that these properties can be exploited for the control of a population of physically independent mobile robots.
The work presented here introduces a new robotic concept called swarm-bot in which the collective interaction exploited by the swarm intelligence mechanism goes beyond the control layer and is extended to the physical level. This implies the addition of new mechanical functionalities on the single robot, together with new electronics and software to manage it. These new functionalities, even if not directly related to mobility and navigation, allow to address complex mobile robotics problems, such as extreme all-terrain exploration.
The work shows also how this new concept is investigated using a simulation tool (swarmbot3d) specifically developed for quickly designing and evaluating new control algorithms. Experimental work shows how the simulated detailed representation of one s-bot has been calibrated to match the behaviour of the real robot.