Lead: Dr Sabine Hauert
In swarm robotics, many simple robots, following rules based on local interactions with other robots or their environment, give rise to seemingly complex behaviours. By taking a swarm engineering approach, we can design systems that are adaptable to changing environments and conditions, scalable to chosen numbers of robots, robust to individual robot failures, and usable out of the box without dedicated infrastructure. Yet this shift towards swam robotics raises fundamental research questions about how we can make systems with functionality that evolves through time from emergent behaviours, safe, reliable, resilient, ethical and trustworthy.
At the TAS Functionality Node we are working in collaboration with Toshiba to study swarm solutions for storage and retrieval in unstructured settings, such as cloak rooms and pop-up distribution centres. Swarm robots in this setting offer the potential for flexible, robust autonomous solutions without the need for extensive infrastructure. Using this use case study we are exploring how the complexity and numbers of robots in the swarm influence its performance. We are also exploring how swarms can be designed, verified and regulated to ensure they are safe by design, useful, and trusted by users.