Course Title

Introduction to Swarm Robotics: Where Complexity Meets Robotics


Course Description

This course is designed to not only advance our technological frontiers but also to delve into the multifaceted realms of complexity science, network science, and engineering. Swarm robotics holds immense potential applications, such as search and rescue, disaster recovery, and environmental monitoring, making its study both relevant and urgent. It is also a crucial component of studying collective intelligence at SCIoI, considering our analytic-synthetic approach. Central to our course is a firm commitment to an ethical approach in the study and application of swarm robotics. We aim to address the societal and ethical concerns associated with autonomous systems, particularly in aspects like military applications, privacy, and security. Our curriculum transcends the boundaries of conventional engineering education by incorporating principles from complexity science and network science, thereby offering a rich, interdisciplinary learning experience. While drawing lessons from natural systems, it remains focused on the synthetic aspects of swarm intelligence.


A distinctive feature of our course is the involvement of industry experts as guest speakers. This provides an exceptional opportunity for students to gain insights directly from professionals who are at the forefront of swarm robotics. These interactions will bridge the gap between academic learning and industry practices, offering students a rare glimpse into the practical aspects and emerging trends in the field. Moreover, to establish a solid foundation, the course commences with a crucial session dedicated to the ethical considerations in swarm robotics. This initial discussion serves as a cornerstone for the entire program, consistently guiding us to acknowledge and address ethical dimensions as we navigate through the intricate aspects of swarm robotics and engineered collective intelligence.


Central to our approach is offering a unique blend of theory and practice, drawing insights from biology, computer science, engineering, and mathematics. This multidisciplinary framework provides a holistic understanding of swarm robotics. To enrich this learning experience, we are inviting an array of international speakers, renowned for their contributions across all these fields, yet with a focus that remains on the engineered aspects of swarm intelligence.


Course Organizer

Mohsen Raoufi


Course Format

To enhance the accessibility of the course to a broader audience and increase the likelihood of securing participation from speakers with demanding schedules, the course will be conducted in a hybrid format. This approach allows speakers the flexibility to deliver their presentations online or, if they prefer, to join us in person at the MAR building and include a visit to SCIoI.

Additional Course Element: It is important to note that the course will feature a lab tour, along with presentations of available projects at SCIoI that focus on Swarm Robotics, specifically projects P27, P34, and P51.


Target Group 

The primary audience for this course includes students who are keen to learn more about the field of collective intelligence, with a specific focus on Swarm Robotics. While the course is mainly targeted at students from the Engineering departments of the Berlin University Alliance, it is not limited to them. Students enrolled in the Robotics module are particularly encouraged to participate. Given the uniqueness of this course within the offerings at the BUA, we are optimistic about attracting students who have been seeking a specialized course in this area.


Course Structure 

The structure of our course is largely inspired by the seminal work of Heiko Hamann in his book “Swarm Robotics: A Formal Approach,” as well as the accompanying components from Complexity Science and Network Science. This framework provides a solid foundation for our lecture series, ensuring a comprehensive and in-depth exploration of the field. The lecture series are in two parts: Seminar Series, and Journal Clubs.


Main Body: Seminar Series

The core of the course consists of a series of expert talks. These talks will be delivered by leading researchers in the relevant field of Swarm Robotics, Complexity Science, or related, whose work aligns closely with the subjects outlined in our course syllabus (detailed in the next sections). This approach ensures that each session directly contributes to the overarching themes and learning objectives of the course, offering students the opportunity to learn from the forefront of current research.


Linking Sessions

To complement the expert talks, we will integrate “linking sessions” before each talk, or for some cases as a full-day lecture, depending on the availability of the speakers and the density of the subjects covered. These sessions will take one of two forms:

  • Instructor-Guided Sessions: In these sessions, I will personally prepare and present concepts to bridge the topics discussed in the consecutive expert talks. The goal is to synthesize and contextualize the information, providing continuity and a deeper understanding of the interconnected aspects of swarm robotics.
  • Journal Club: Alternatively, we will hold journal club sessions that are student-led. These sessions are an integral part of the course, where students will select, present, and discuss relevant academic papers or key literature. This format not only enhances engagement with the course material but also is part of the student’s overall scores. It encourages collaborative discussion and a deeper dive into current research trends. Depending on the administrative considerations, we might offer extra credits for the students who contribute to the journal club.

This structure aims to provide a balanced and dynamic learning experience, combining direct insights from top experts with interactive and student-centric activities.