COS-Pi: Artificial pheromone system for robotic swarms research

Arvin F., Krajnik T., TURGUT A. E., Yue S.

2015 IEEE/RSJ INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON INTELLIGENT ROBOTS AND SYSTEMS (IROS), Hamburg, Germany, 28 September - 02 October 2015, pp.407-412 identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Full Text
  • Doi Number: 10.1109/iros.2015.7353405
  • City: Hamburg
  • Country: Germany
  • Page Numbers: pp.407-412
  • Keywords: Pheromone Communication, Artificial pheromones, Autonomous Robot, Swarm Robotics, Localization, COMMUNICATION, AGGREGATION
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Pheromone-based communication is one of the most effective ways of communication widely observed in nature. It is particularly used by social insects such as bees, ants and termites; both for inter-agent and agent-swarm communications. Due to its effectiveness; artificial pheromones have been adopted in multi-robot and swarm robotic systems for more than a decade. Although, pheromone-based communication was implemented by different means like chemical (use of particular chemical compounds) or physical (RFID tags, light, sound) ways, none of them were able to replicate all the aspects of pheromones as seen in nature. In this paper, we propose a novel artificial pheromone system that is reliable, accurate and it uses off-the-shelf components only - LCD screen and low-cost USB camera. The system allows to simulate several pheromones and their interactions and to change parameters of the pheromones (diffusion, evaporation, etc.) on the fly allowing for controllable experiments. We tested the performance of the system using the Colias platform in single-robot and swarm scenarios. To allow the swarm robotics community to use the system for their research, we provide it as a freely available open-source package.