Departmental Papers (MEAM)

Document Type

Conference Paper

Subject Area


Date of this Version

April 2007


Copyright YEAR IEEE. Reprinted from Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, ICRA '07, April 2007, pages 2318-2323.

This material is posted here with permission of the IEEE. Such permission of the IEEE does not in any way imply IEEE endorsement of any of the University of Pennsylvania's products or services. Internal or personal use of this material is permitted. However, permission to reprint/republish this material for advertising or promotional purposes or for creating new collective works for resale or redistribution must be obtained from the IEEE by writing to By choosing to view this document, you agree to all provisions of the copyright laws protecting it.


We present a methodology for characterizing and synthesizing swarm behaviors using both a macroscopic model that represents a swarm as a continuum and a microscopic model that represents individual robots. We develop a systematic approach for synthesizing behaviors at the macroscopic level that can be realized on individual robots at the microscopic level. Our methodology is inspired by a dynamical model of ant house hunting [1], a decentralized process in which a colony attempts to emigrate to the best site among several alternatives. The model is hybrid because the colony switches between different sets of behaviors, or modes, during this process. At the macroscopic level, we are able to synthesize controllers that result in the deployment of a robotic swarm in a predefined ratio between distinct sites. We then derive hybrid controllers for individual robots using only local interactions and no communication that respect the specifications of the global continuous behavior. Our simulations demonstrate that our synthesis procedure yields a correct microscopic model from the macroscopic description with guarantees on performance at both levels.



Date Posted: 22 January 2008

This document has been peer reviewed.