Melanie Schranz, Gianni A.Di Caro, Thomas Schmickl, Wilfried Elmenreich, Farshad Arvin, Ahmet Şekercioğlu, Micha Sende
Swarm and Evolutionary Computation
Swarm Intelligence (SI) is a popular multi-agent framework that has been originally inspired by swarm behaviors observed in natural systems, such as ant and bee colonies. In a system designed after swarm intelligence, each agent acts autonomously, reacts on dynamic inputs, and, implicitly or explicitly, works collaboratively with other swarm members without a central control. The system as a whole is expected to exhibit global patterns and behaviors. Although well-designed swarms can show advantages in adaptability, robustness, and scalability, it must be noted that SI system haven’t really found their way from lab demonstrations to real-world applications, so far. This is particularly true for embodied SI, where the agents are physical entities, such as in swarm robotics scenarios. In this paper, we start from these observations, outline different definitions and characterizations, and then discuss present challenges in the perspective of future use of swarm intelligence. These include application ideas, research topics, and new sources of inspiration from biology, physics, and human cognition. To motivate future applications of swarms, we make use of the notion of cyber-physical systems (CPS). CPSs are a way to encompass the large spectrum of technologies including robotics, internet of things (IoT), Systems on Chip (SoC), embedded systems, and so on. Thereby, we give concrete examples for visionary applications and their challenges representing the physical embodiment of swarm intelligence in autonomous driving and smart traffic, emergency response, environmental monitoring, electric energy grids, space missions, medical applications, and human networks. We do not aim to provide new solutions for the swarm intelligence or CPS community, but rather build a bridge between these two communities. This allows us to view the research problems of swarm intelligence from a broader perspective and motivate future research activities in modeling, design, validation/verification, and human-in-the-loop concepts.