What is the difference between Multiple robots and swarm robots? What is the key point? Also what is multi agent systems? Do multi agent systems works only for computer simulations or games? These terms are used similar applications.


2 Answers 2


These concepts are similar in the sense that they require multiple robots that communicate/cooperate. Apart from that, their application, and thus their design and implementation differ.

Swarm Robots

Swarm robots are designed after ants, bees and such creatures. The idea therefore is not just about multiple robots cooperating, but it's about many robots, each of which is very simple. With swarm robots, you would expect each robot to be too stupid to possibly even know why it's doing something (i.e., what is the ultimate goal). Their simple function however, would result in a complex algorithm when a bunch of robots are doing it.

To recap, with swarm robots, each robot is unable to do anything meaningful. The desired behavior emerges only when there are many of them. Usually, the robots all look the same.

Multi-Agent Systems

In multi-agent systems, you have multiple agents, which could be either computer programs or robots, each of which is able to do some meaningful part of a task. It is possible that without having all the agents, the ultimate goal cannot be reached, but parts of it perhaps could still be done. Think of multi-agent systems as a society of humans. Each of us have a profession and we thrive together, but we are not useless on our own.

To recap, a multi-agent system consists of entities (e.g., robots) that are each specialized for a certain task. They cooperate to achieve the ultimate goal, but individually they are also able to do some things.

Multiple Unrelated Robots

You mentioned multiple robots. That's not something that relates to a specific methodology (as opposed to e.g., swarm robots). I'm going to thus talk about multiple unrelated robots.

It is not unthinkable to imagine unrelated robots cooperating at some point in time. In such a case, each robot has its own goal, or is part of its own swarm, or is a member of its own multi-agent system, etc. Based on circumstances, the robots may meet and they may interact. One simple case is the robots avoiding crash while each goes on about its business.

In this case, there is really no common algorithm, design, methodology or whatever. It's just individual robots who happen to meet.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for reply. I'm still little bit confused. can you explain more specific and explain differences more clearly. $\endgroup$
    Commented May 28, 2015 at 14:41
  • $\begingroup$ @MİLKSOZ, regarding swarm robots: imagine ants that want to find the shortest path to food source, so they can bring it back home efficiently. An ant in isolation walks around randomly, lays pheromone and is likely to follow the scent of pheromone from other ants. Now take one ant in isolation and ask it to find food. It would wander around, and even if it finds the food, it goes and comes back in a terribly winded and long path. The ant itself is incapable of understanding that the path it chose is bad or anything. Only when you have many ants can they actually solve the problem. $\endgroup$
    – Shahbaz
    Commented May 28, 2015 at 16:04
  • $\begingroup$ @MİLKSOZ, regarding multi-agent systems: imagine two humans. One has a ladder and is good at fixing it to the wall so another human can climb it. The other one is good at fixing a broken window. Now if you have these two agents working together, they can fix all windows in a building. However, if you take only one of them, say the one that can fix windows, and make it work in isolation, it can still fix windows near the ground, so it's not entirely useless. In these systems, each robot is capable of something possibly unique, and together they cooperate to do more complex tasks. $\endgroup$
    – Shahbaz
    Commented May 28, 2015 at 16:06
  • $\begingroup$ @MİLKSOZ, regarding multiple unrelated robots: anything you can imagine which requires two or more robots to interact fits here. Imagine one is like a human, the other is like a pigeon. If they meet, they human could kick the pigeon, the pigeon could walk away, or fly away, or attack the human, or the human could give it food, or walk around it, you name it. All of these interactions are valid in a multi-robot system. $\endgroup$
    – Shahbaz
    Commented May 28, 2015 at 16:08

In addition to @Shahbaz

According to this book

Multiple Mobile Robot Systems is main topic and swarm robotics is a sub topic both of them motivated from

  1. the task complexity is too high for a single robot to accomplish

  2. the task is inherently distributed

  3. building several resource-bounded robots is much easier than having a single powerful robot

  4. multiple robots can solve problems faster using parallelism

  5. the introduction of multiple robots increases robustness through redundancy

Swarm Robots: Historically, some of the earliest work in multirobot systems dealt with large numbers of homogeneous robots, called swarms.

This means multi robot systems can be homogeneous and heteregeneous but swarm systems have to homegeneous.

Multi agent systems is a computerized systems composed of multiple interacting intelligent agents within an environment. But also it can be robot.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.