© The Author(s) 2020.Pheromones are chemical substances released into the environment by an individual animal, which elicit stereotyped behaviours widely found across the animal kingdom. Inspired by the effective use of pheromones in social insects, pheromonal communication has been adopted to swarm robotics domain using diverse approaches such as alcohol, RFID tags and light. COSΦ is one of the light-based artificial pheromone systems which can emulate realistic pheromones and environment properties through the system. This article provides a significant improvement to the state-of-the-art by proposing a novel artificial pheromone system that simulates pheromones with environmental effects by adopting a model of spatio-temporal development of pheromone derived from a flow of fluid in nature. Using the proposed system, we investigated the collective behaviour of a robot swarm in a bio-inspired aggregation scenario, where robots aggregated on a circular pheromone cue with different environmental factors, that is, diffusion and pheromone shift. The results demonstrated the feasibility of the proposed pheromone system for use in swarm robotic applications.