About this Research Topic
While it seems natural to deal with robot teams (“swarms”) as yet another instance of a classical distributed system, important aspects set the former apart from the latter. The dynamics of robot swarms are characterized by an inseparable mixture of spatial and network aspects. Spatial aspects include the fact that robots move, and modify their surrounding environment, while network aspects include a communication modality based on range-limited, gossip-based message passing, and an ever changing topology due to robot navigation across the environment. As a result, the mapping between swarm-level requirements and individual actions is a problem whose solution exceeds current approaches to distributed system design. Designing and developing swarm behaviors is achieved today through a slow trial-and-error process, in which the expertise of the designer and his or her ability to encode complex behaviors are the main factors for success. As a result, very few collaborative or emerging behaviors are actually used in practical robotic applications. While this is bound to change, new methods and techniques are required to alleviate the burden of the designer and allow the development, analysis, and optimization of large-scale collaborative multi-robot applications.
This Research Topic calls for contributions that illustrate and discuss innovative methods and technologies that will allow researchers and practitioners to design, test, and verify multi-robot behaviors at the scale required by real-world applications. This includes the development of new languages that set the designer at the appropriate abstraction level for swarm robotics, techniques for the deployment of software across hundreds if not thousands of robots, methods for debugging and verification methods of distributed robotic systems, and algorithms for consensus and decision making.
In summary, this Research Topic calls for contributions that can push forward our understanding of how multi-robot applications should be designed, developed, and optimized.
Keywords: Programming, Swarm Robotics, Multi-Robot Systems, Software Engineering, Languages
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