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Pattern Formation in Homogeneous and Heterogeneous Swarms: Differences Between Versatile and Specialized Agents

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2 Author(s)
Sven Magg ; Adaptive Systems Research Group, University of Hertfordshire, College Lane, Hatfield, Herts AL10 9AB, UK. Email: ; Rene te Boekhorst

In collective robotics, researchers are successfully using models derived from swarm insect behavior to solve problems like coordination or task allocation. It is often assumed that in a homogeneous group of agents, every agent has to become more complicated when the complexity of the task increases, which decreases simplicity of design and robustness. Role diversification and therefore task specialization within a group may help counter the need for more complex agents. Because experiments on self-organization and dynamic task allocation in robot populations focused mainly on homogeneous groups, the relation between these models and pre-specified role diversification remains mainly unknown. In this work the interchangeability of homogeneous and heterogeneous agent populations is investigated. It is shown that in a simple simulated environment, a mixed population of specialized agents can not be easily substituted by a homogeneous group of multi-tasking agents. Results lead to the conclusion that the ability of dynamic task switching, i.e. adaptive task allocation in respect to changes in the environment, have strong effects on the behavior on a population level. Although a pre-defined heterogeneous group can produce the same result for a given environment and a specific population composition, the group behavior differs when the environment changes

Published in:

2007 IEEE Symposium on Artificial Life

Date of Conference:

1-5 April 2007