[robotics-worldwide] [journals] [CFP] Frontiers Robotics & AI Multi-Robot Systems

Carlo Pinciroli cpinciroli at wpi.edu
Fri Jul 14 14:31:46 PDT 2017

Call for contributions
Frontiers Robotics & AI Multi-Robot Systems
Programming Multi-Robot Systems in the Real World: Methods and Best Practices

Guest associate editors
Giovanni Beltrame, Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal
Carlo Pinciroli, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Important dates
- October 27, 2017 :: Abstract submission
- March 1, 2018 :: Manuscript submission
- July 1, 2018 :: Notification of First Round Decision
- August 1, 2018 :: Deadline for Revised Paper Submission
- December 1, 2018 :: Target Publication Date

>From drones to self-driving cars, robots and multi-robot systems are
becoming pervasive in our daily lives. The incoming robotics
revolution will fundamentally change the type of devices available to
the general public. In contrast to the current concept of `smart'
devices, which are capable of sensing and computation, robots are
devices that integrate sensing, computation, and actuation in the
physical world. An inescapable consequence of this introduction of
robotics into our daily lives is the fact that these devices will be
networked, will be heterogeneous in terms of capabilities, and will
need to coordinate in teams to achieve complex tasks. The development
of the Internet-of-Things is speeding up this process, and multi-robot
systems will be used in many areas. Examples of such applications are
search and rescue operations, industrial and agricultural inspection,
coordinated vehicle platooning, space exploration, and medical or
surgical activities. We envision a world where a designer can specify
the behavior of heterogeneous groups of robots, and package this
behavior in an application that can be installed on multiple robotic

While it seems natural to deal with robot teams ("swarms") as yet
another instance of a classical distributed system, important aspects
set the former apart from the latter. The dynamics of robot swarms are
characterized by an inseparable mixture of spatial and network
aspects. Spatial aspects include the fact that robots move, and modify
their surrounding environment, while network aspects include a
communication modality based on range-limited, gossip-based message
passing, and an ever changing topology due to robot navigation across
the environment. As a result, the mapping between swarm-level
requirements and individual actions is a problem whose solution
exceeds current approaches to distributed system design. Designing and
developing swarm behaviors is achieved today through a slow
trial-and-error process, in which the expertise of the designer and
his or her ability to encode complex behaviors are the main factors
for success. As a result, very few collaborative or emerging behaviors
are actually used in practical robotic applications. While this is
bound to change, new methods and techniques are required to alleviate
the burden of the designer and allow the development, analysis, and
optimization of large-scale collaborative multi-robot applications.

This Research Topic calls for contributions that illustrate and
discuss innovative methods and technologies that will allow
researchers and practitioners to design, test, and verify multi-robot
behaviors at the scale required by real-world applications. This
includes the development of new languages that set the designer at the
appropriate abstraction level for swarm robotics, techniques for the
deployment of software across hundreds if not thousands of robots,
methods for debugging and verification methods of distributed robotic
systems, and algorithms for consensus and decision making.

In summary, this Research Topic calls for contributions that can push
forward our understanding of how multi-robot applications should be
designed, developed, and optimized.

Carlo Pinciroli, Ph.D.

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