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The future of multiple-robot research and its multiple identities

Workshop at 2014 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS)

September 18th, Chigago, IL, USA

Time: 8.30am - 5.00pm

Room: Salon 10

Do you have a Twitter account?
Use the hashtag #multirobots to send comments during (and before!) the workshop, to contribute to the final discussion.


The objective of this workshop is to assess the degree to which multi-robot systems is a distinct research sub-area within the robotics community rather than a topic that cuts-across each of the other sub-areas and topics. We wish to explore the degree to which core elements of multi-robot systems research (e.g., distributed algorithms, decentralized planning, etc.) span existing areas and to anticipate the degree to which these elements will in the future. This workshop aims at promoting a discussion to identify and define the overarching ideas that can tie together different research direction in multi-robot systems, and lead to the definition of common practices and standards.


A constantly increasing community of researchers has been putting great effort in the development of multi-robot systems, in the last decades.
The interest in multi-robot systems is motivated by the fact that, when dealing with complex tasks, it is often preferable to exploit the potentialities of a team of cooperating robots, instead of developing a super-capable individual robot. In fact, it is often more practical (from a technological and economical point of view) to bring together a group of simple robots (possibly with different capabilities), and make them cooperate. Moreover, due to redundancy, multi-robot systems are inherently more reliable, which makes them even more attractive.

Researchers interested in multi-robot systems represent an inherently diverse community, since several competences are needed in this field, ranging from control systems to mechanical design, estimation, perception, planning, and interaction, just to list a few. While this fact could represent an incredible richness for the multi-robot field, perhaps instead it hinders the internal dialogue among researchers coming from different backgrounds and thus represents an obstacle to constitution and development of a united field of research like other fields in robotics.
The main objective of this workshop is therefore to investigate if research in “multi-robot systems” ought to be considered as an autonomous research field, characterized by common methodologies and practices, or if it should be better considered only as a meta-field, i.e., a “tag” used to label the many works in different research fields when dealing with system possessing an increased number of degrees of freedom and/or several sub-systems. We believe that finding an answer to this question is fundamental for the future development of multi-robot system research.

Toward this aim we will host a selection of invited keynote speakers that cover many different spirits of multi-robot community. We will ask them to give a historical perspective on their multi-robot system research, a current state-of-the-art, and insights on future trends and research challenges. The workshop will be organized in multiple sessions, each of which will be focused on a fundamental problem or aspect of multi-robot systems (e.g., control, communication, modeling, etc.).
In this way we intend to reveal the true nature of multi-robot systems research and to pave the way for the creation of new stronger links among the different spirits of this large robotics community.

An interactive session will also be organized, in order to increase the number and the variety of the participants in the discussion, based on an open Call for Contributions.

The workshop will conclude with an open discussion among the participants, based on the main concepts drawn from the presentations.






Invited speakers






  1. Rachid Alami
    LAAS-CNRS, France
  2. Magnus Egerstedt
    Georgia Institute of Technology, USA
  3. Randy Freeman
    Northwestern University, USA
  4. Vijay Kumar
    University of Pennsylvania, USA
  5. Jonathan P. How
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA
  6. Ani Hsieh
    Drexel University, USA
  7. Volkan Isler
    University of Minnesota, USA
  8. Anibal Ollero
    University of Seville, Spain
  9. Lynne Parker
    University of Tennessee, USA
  10. Mac Schwager
    Boston University, USA
  11. Kosuke Sekiyama
    Nagoya University, Japan






8.30 - 8.40



8.40 - 9.00

Magnus Egerstedt

Eulerian Swarms

9.00 - 9.20

Randy Freeman

Dynamic average consensus for multi-robot coordination

9.20 - 9.40

Vijay Kumar

Coordination, Cooperation, and Collaboration in Multi Robot Systems

9.40 - 10.00

Anibal Ollero

Multiple cooperative aerial robots: From intentional cooperation to the control of physical interactions

10.00 - 10.30

Coffee Break


10.30 - 10.50

Mac Schwager

Multi-Robot Control for Coverage, Sensing, and Surveillance: A Perspective on Multi-Robot Systems Research

10.50 - 11.10

Jonathan P. How

Decentralized Autonomy: Planning and Learning

11.10 - 11.30

Ani Hsieh

Going with the Flow: A Case for Multi-Robot Systems and Distributed Mobile Sensing

11.30 - 11.50

Volkan Isler

Robotic Data Collection in Environmental and Agricultural Applications

11.50 - 12.20



12.20 - 13.30

Lunch Break


13.30 - 14.10

Interactive Session Teasers (3 min. each)



C. Amato, G. Konidaris, J. P. How and L. P. Kaelbling

Decentralized Decision-Making Under Uncertainty for Multi-Robot Teams


A. Breitenmoser and G. Sukhatme

Multi-Robot Voronoi Coverage under Actuation and Measurement Noise


G. Casalino, E. Simetti, N. Manerikar, S. Torelli, A. Sperindè, G. Antonelli, E. Cataldi

On Autonomous Cooperative Underwater Floating Manipulation Systems


D. Zhou, E. Cristofalo, E. Montijano, M. Schwager and C. Sagues

Vision-based Distributed Formation Control without a Global Reference Frame


P. Dames and V. Kumar

Localizing Large Numbers of Targets Without Data Association Using Teams of Mobile Robots


K. Kamei, M. Shiomi, T. Miyashita and N. Hagita

Cloud Networked Robotics Technologies for Super-Aging Society


A. Settimi, M. Ferrati and L. Pallottino

Distributed coordination of a “society” of autonomous mobile robots in industrial environments: from collision avoidance to task assignment


Z. Wang and M. Schwager

Multi-Robot Manipulation without Communication


J. Alonso-Mora, R. Siegwart, D. Rus

Collaborative Motion Planning for Multi-Agent Systems

14.15 - 15.00

Interactive Session


15.00 - 15.30

Coffee Break


15.30 - 15.50

Kosuke Sekiyama

Cognitive issues of vision-based multi-robot cooperation

15.50 - 16.10

Rachid Alami

Decisional issues for multi-robot systems: Towards teams of humans and robots

16.10 - 16.30

Lynne Parker

Characterizing Commonalities in Multi-Robot Systems Research

16.30 - 17.00

Final Discussion



Do you have a Twitter account?
Use the hashtag #multirobots to send comments during (and before!) the workshop, to contribute to the final discussion.







Lorenzo Sabattini
Department of Sciences and Methods for Engineering (DISMI)
University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy

Antonio Franchi
Laboratoire d’Analyse et d’Architecture des Systèmes (LAAS)
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), France

Dylan Shell
Department of Computer Science and Engineering
Texas A&M University

Nora Ayanian
Department of Computer Science
University of Southern California