A swarm design paradigm unifying swarm behaviors using minimalistic communication

Joshua Cherian Varughese, Hannes Hornischer, Payam Zahadat, Ronald Thenius*, Franz Wotawa, Thomas Schmickl

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Numerous nature inspired algorithms have been suggested to enable robotic swarms, mobile sensor networks and other multi-agent systems to exhibit various self-organized behaviors. Swarm intelligence and swarm robotics research have been underway for a few decades and have produced many such algorithms based on natural self-organizing systems. While a large body of research exists for variations and modifications in swarm intelligence algorithms, there have been few attempts to unify the underlying agent level design of these widely varying behaviors. In this work, a design paradigm for a swarm of agents is presented which can exhibit a wide range of collective behaviors at swarm level while using minimalistic single-bit communication at the agent level. The communication in the proposed paradigm is based on waves of 'ping'-signals inspired by strategies for communication and self organization of slime mold (Dictyostelium discoideum) and fireflies (lampyridae). The unification of common collective behaviors through this Wave Oriented Swarm Paradigm (WOSP) enables the control of swarms with minimalistic communication and yet allowing the emergence of diverse complex behaviors. It is demonstrated both in simulation and using real robotic experiments that even a single-bit communication channel between agents suffices for the design of a substantial set of behaviors. Ultimately, the reader will be enabled to combine different behaviours based on the paradigm to develop a control scheme for individual swarms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number036005
Number of pages28
JournalBioinspiration and Biomimetics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • swarm communication
  • swarm intelligence
  • swarm paradigm
  • swarm robotics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)


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