Path Planning Strategies Inspired by Swarm Behaviour of Plant Root Apexes

European Space Agency final report, 31 January 2011

Luís F. Simões, Cristina Cruz, Rita A. Ribeiro, Luís Correia, Tobias Seidl, Christos Ampatzis, Dario Izzo

“Exploring unknown environments and identifying potentially interesting or hazardous areas is a challenging task for an autonomous agent. In the absence of a priori provided maps or landmarks guiding navigation, researchers are considering multi-agent systems trying to exploit the inherent parallelism of such systems. Many scienti c research works following this direction draw inspiration from biological swarm models. In such models, self-organised exploration strategies emerge at the collective level as a result of simple rules followed by individual agents. To produce the global behaviour, individuals interact by using simple (often indirect or stigmergic) and mostly local communication protocols. Social insects are a good biological example of organisms collectively exploring an unknown environment, and they have often served as a source of direct inspiration for research on self-organized cooperative robotic exploration and path formation in groups of robots using swarm intelligence techniques (e.g. [Payton et al., 2003; Svennebring and Koenig, 2004; Schmickl et al., 2009; Nouyan et al., 2008]). The bene t of such distributed techniques lies in the fact that they produce robust and scalable systems, contrary to traditional approaches often based on centralised architectures and map-like representation of the environment.”