Swarm robotics focuses on systems of large numbers of robots, independently controlled, limited in capabilities, with the goal of reliably achieving collective tasks despite individually unreliable agents. These systems are inspired by groups of animals in nature, such as flocking birds, schooling fish, and colonies of social insects. The goal of this workshop is to bring together researchers in both the robotics and biology communities with a shared interest in swarm systems. The day will feature keynote presentations by eminent experts on recent research; directed small-group discussions with both senior and junior researchers; and an open discussion session with posters and demonstrations, the latter featuring hardware, simulations, and live insects. Through these presentations and opportunities for conversation, we hope to facilitate cross-pollination between the two communities. Two overarching goals are to catalyze new inspirations for artificial systems based on studies of natural ones, and to identify principles from engineered swarms that can help to explain the operation of animal collectives.


This is a full-day workshop on swarms in robotics and nature, to be held at ICRA 2018, Brisbane, Australia, on Friday, May 25. We invite extended abstracts for poster presentations, and demonstrations of both physical and simulated systems. Researchers who work in any area of collective behavior are welcomed to participate. Early-career researchers are especially encouraged to apply!



  • Swarm robotics and multi-robot systems

  • Animal collectives (social insects, schooling fish, flocking birds, herding mammals, etc.)

  • Self-* (self-organization, self-assembly, self-repair, etc.)

  • Modular reconfigurable systems

  • Programmable matter, smart materials, amorphous computing

  • Social systems and mixed animal-robot societies

  • Human-swarm interaction

  • Distributed evolutionary and collaborative systems



  • Justin Werfel, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard University
  • Kirstin Petersen, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Cornell University
  • Mike Rubenstein, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Mechanical Engineering, Northwestern University


Confirmed Speakers



  • 9:00: Presentations by featured speakers (schedule to be finalized)
  • 14:00: Lightning talks by poster presenters
  • 15:00: Exhibition
  • 16:30: Guided discussion session in small groups
  • 15:30: Full group discussion and closing



We invite extended abstracts and demonstration proposals from researchers to present current work and ideas. Extended abstracts should be 2-4 pages, and follow the IEEE RAS paper template. Demonstration proposals may take any form. Up to 20 abstracts will be accepted to be presented in the form of a poster during the open session at the workshop. Up to 8 physical systems, and up to 4 simulated systems, will be accepted to be demonstrated live during the open session. Accepted abstracts will be made available on this website after the conclusion of the workshop.

Submissions should be emailed to justin.werfel@wyss.harvard.edu by March 15, 2018. Notification of acceptance will follow by April 15, 2018.