A 3D Swarm of Biologically-inspired Little Underwater Explorers: The natural world abounds with self-organizing collectives, where large numbers of relatively simple agents use local interactions to produce impressive global behaviors. Fish schools are particularly impressive – collectives of thousands migrate long distances, search for resources, and even form dynamic shapes like flash expansions or bait balls to evade predators or capture prey. Even more inspiring are the fish schools that move within coral reefs, navigating together in complex cluttered environments. These biological collectives exhibit several properties that are highly desirable from an engineering perspective: they are decentralized, providing robustness to failure of agents, and they rely primarily on local sensing and nearest neighbor interactions, exhibiting high degrees of scalability and adaptability.

The goal of the BlueSwarm Project is to develop a novel 3D swarm testbed inspired by reef fish schools: An underwater robot collective, with 5-30 fully-autonomous miniature (~10cm) robots, that use local communication and sensing to demonstrate complex global 3D coordination, inspired by the kinds of complexity that fish schools achieve.

This new project has three main thrusts: (a) The development of an underwater robot swarm platform, with miniature (~10cm) but highly maneuverable underwater robots. (b) The development of algorithms and programming methodologies to create complex global-to-local 3D collective behaviors using implicit coordination. (c) Using BlueSwarm robots to understand fish biomechanics and schooling.  See our recent publications and movie links below for current progress.

PEOPLE: Florian Berlinger, Paula Wulkop (ETH masters), Melvin Gauci (now Researcher@Amazon), Jeff Dusek (now faculty@Olin), and our biologist collaborators from George Lauder's lab.

FUNDING: ONR Science of Autonomy, Wyss Institute, Amazon ML Research Award.

MOVIES: SSR BlueSwarm Youtube Channel

Florian and Melvin with BluebotsPaula Wulkop doing experiments