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  7. I-Swarm - Intelligent Small World Autonomous Robots for Micro-Manipulation

I-Swarm - Intelligent Small World Autonomous Robots for Micro-Manipulation

European Union FP6-IST programme, Integrated Project, Contract No: 507006

The I-SWARM project was awarded in December 2003 under the European Union Information Society Technologies (IST) 6th framework programme. It is a follow-up of the MiCRoN project. The I-SWARM project involves ten leading academic organisations throughout Europe. The total value awarded by the EU to the consortium is €4.4 million.

The aim of I-SWARM is the realisation of a real microrobot swarm, i.e. a thousand micro manufactured autonomous robots will be designed for the collective execution of different tasks in the small world. This will be achieved by

  • the realisation of collective intelligence of these robots, in terms of co-operation and collective perception using knowledge and methods of pre-rational intelligence, machine learning, swarm theory and classical multi-agent systems
  • the development of advanced microrobots hardware (a) being extremely small (proposed size of a single robot: 2 x 2 x 1 mm³) (b) by integrating novel actuators, miniaturised powering and miniaturised wireless communication (c) with ICs for on-board intelligence and (d) integrating sensors and tools for the manipulation in the small world

The fundamental vision of the proposed project is a swarm of microrobots, which is capable of performing tasks that are not possible with either a single microrobot, or with a small group of microrobots. The expected outcome is the realisation of an observable self-organisation effect in the robot swarm similar to that seen within other ecological systems like ant states, bees colonies and other insect aggregations.

There are many potential benefits of such a system including greater flexibility and adaptability of the system to the environment, robustness to failures, etc. Moreover, their collective behaviour opens up new application fields, that cannot be solved with today s tools. With a suitable sophisticated positioning system, possibly based on that used by insects and incorporating tactile sensors and a small but effective vision system, the individual agents will be able to communicate between themselves and thus enable and promote the desired swarm effect.

Project partners

Co-ordinator

Universitaet Karlsruhe (TH), Institute for Process Control and Robotics (UNIKARL), Karlsruhe, Germany. See main I-SWARM website

Academic partners
  • Sheffield Hallam University, Microsystems and Machine Vision Lab, Sheffield, United Kingdom
  • Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering (FhG) St. Ingbert, Germany
  • Scuola Superiore di Sant'Anna, Center of Research In Microengineering (SSSA), Pisa, Italy
  • Universitat de Barcelona, Departament d'Electrònica (UB), Barcelona, Spain
  • Uppsala University, Department of Engineering Sciences (DMS), Uppsala, Sweden
  • Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Institut de Systemès Robotiques (EPFL), Lausanne, Switzerland
  • National Technical University of Athens, Control Systems Laboratory (NTUA), Athens, Greece
  • Karl-Franzens-Universitaet Graz, Institute of Zoology (IZG), Graz, Austria
  • Universitaet Stuttgart, Institute of Parallel and Distributed Systems (USTUTT), Stuttgart, Germany
Publications related to ISWARM (Sheffield Hallam only)

McKibbin, S.P., Othman, W.F.W., Amavasai, B.P., Caparrelli, F. and Travis, J.R., Designing microrobot swarms-issues and constraints, Proceedings of the IEEE SMC UK-RI Chapter Conference, pp. 80-84, Londonderry, UK, 7-8 Sept, 2004

Amavasai, B.P. and Rockett P.I., Multilayered-perceptrons regularisation using a continuous of degrees-of-freedom measure, Proceedings of the IEEE SMC UK-RI Chapter Conference, pp. 80-84., Londonderry, UK, 7-8 Sept, 2004

Siddique, N.H., Amavasai, B.P. and Hessami, A.G., Intelligent vs Cybernetic Systems, Editorial, Proceedings of the IEEE SMC UK-RI Chapter Conference, pp. 1., Londonderry, UK, 7-8 Sept, 2004

Fernandez, J.M., Amavasai, B.P., Othman, W.F.W., McKibbin, S.P., Caparrelli, F. and Travis, J.R. Development of physical agents for robot swarms, Proceedings of the IEEE SMC UK-RI Chapter Conference on Applied Cybernetics, pp. 123-128, London, UK, 7-8 Sept 2005.

Othman, W.F.W., McKibbin, S.P., Caparrelli, F., Travis, J.R. and Amavasai, B.P., Pattern formation and organisation in robot swarms, Proceedings of the IEEE SMC UK-RI Chapter Conference on Applied Cybernetics, pp. 135-140, London, UK, 7-8 Sept 2005.

Meikle, S. and Amavasai, B.P., Neurocosa: A software framework for autonomous survivors Proceedings of the IEEE SMC UK-RI Chapter Conference on Applied Cybernetics, pp. 152-158, London, UK, 7-8 Sept 2005.

Seminars and talks

Caparrelli, F. From MINIMAN to I-SWARM: The evolution of micro-robotics from individual to swarm behaviour, Sheffield Hallam University, 31 March 2004.

Othman, W.F.W, Pattern formation in Robotic Swarms, Sheffield Hallam University, 8 December 2004.

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