Pheromone communication in a robot swarm: necrophoric bee behaviour and its replication

Anies Hannawati Purnamadjaja a1 and R. Andrew Russell a1
a1 Intelligent Robotics Research Centre, Monash University, Clayton, VIC 3800 (AUSTRALIA)

Article author query
purnamadjaja ah   [Google Scholar] 
russell ra   [Google Scholar] 


This paper describes a project to implement necrophoric bee behaviour in a robot swarm. Pheromone communication is an effective means of coordinating the activities of insect colonies including food gathering, alarm and defense, reproduction and recognition of conspecifics. In a similar manner it is anticipated that pheromones will provide a valuable form of communication between robots. In order to investigate the problems and potential for this form of interaction, it was decided to implement an example of pheromone communication in a physical robotic system. Inspiration for this project came from the necrophoric behaviour of bees. The necrophoric pheromone released by dead bees triggers corpse removal behaviour in passing worker bees. In the context of a robot swarm one of the proposed applications for this behaviour is to locate and rescue disabled robots that release a pheromone as a form of distress signal. This paper provides details of the swarm robots used in the project, their sensors and the simple reactive control algorithm that was developed to mimic the necrophoric behaviour of bees. Results of practical experiments and simulations are also given.

(Received November 15 2004)

Key Words: Pheromone communication; Robot swarms; Necrophoric behaviour.