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The Art of Swarms

Our key researcher talks about our work in the field, how we do it and the meaning of art in the process.

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Control swarms with swarmOS
Foto: Florian Voggeneder

swarmOS is an operating system for swarms of drones, ground bots or other autonomous vehicles. The central parts of swarmsOS are “Ground Control”, a desktop application that acts as a command central, and the “Implant”, a small hardware device installed on every vehicle, responsible for abstracting logic and communication.

swarmOS can be used for a predefined choreography or in a scenario with live interaction. Its core idea is to provide abstraction from hardware-specific details: It can support all sorts of vehicles as longs as they implement certain protocols. swarmsOS is set up to be easily integrated into third party systems for research partners and vehicle manufacturers.

Human Swarm Interaction

Demo at Ars Electronica Festival – Linz
Foto: Florian Voggeneder

Nature provides us with many examples of collective behaviors that solve problems and create complexity, community and beauty – from fish, birds and bees to, of course, humans. We can learn from these to create systems of robots, sensors and processes to augment our capabilities and delight us: The future of our society will increasingly be a mesh of human, natural and artificial collectives.

Multi-agent systems that collaborate in physical space to accomplish tasks take many forms, from drone swarms to sensor networks, and their variability and versatility will only increase in the future.

Every such system has degrees of autonomy in its control mechanisms: The more autonomous, the more trust is placed in the system’s algorithms to make good decisions, and the less it burdens humans with supervising it.

swarms+art means exploring interactive scenarios to find technical innovations, but equally using swarms as media to create experiences that inspire reflection and discussion of the symbiosis of humans and artificial swarms in the future.

Related Projects

Artificial Collectives

Our research area: The future of Swarms and Society

Drone swarm extended into virtual space
Deep Space – Linz
Foto: Denise Hirtenfelder

Artificial Collectives refers to the development of systems that are multitudes of technical units, and how they can be imbued with decentralized, coordinated decision-making. What principles and languages do we need to instruct a swarm of drones to solve a particular problem?

How can they communicate with each other, and with their environment? Can we take clues from how groups of living beings cooperate? How can such a system, as a collective, be easily scalable and robust towards imperfect sensing or communication?