Call for Papers: Cross-disciplinary approaches for designing intelligent swarms of drones

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: January 3, 2022. 

Designing swarms of autonomous mini or micro-drones able to self-organize, sense their environment, coordinate their movements, and cooperate to perform collective tasks in real-world situations is a major challenge in swarm robotics. This problem has been tackled from different perspectives in many research fields that often follow different strategies and objectives. 

In quantitative and computational ethology, recent advances in the study of collective motion and information processing in animal groups such as swarms of insects, schools of fish, or flocks of birds has offered new sources of inspiration to design distributed control algorithms for swarms of drones. In these animal groups simple social interactions facilitate the transfer of information between individuals and their ability to quickly respond to changes in the environment. In computer science, a major challenge resides in the provision of robust and truly decentralized control of a swarm at different levels in the architecture.

Micro-drones are extremely limited at the individual scale, since they cannot carry highly accurate, heavy, and power hungry sensors and have very limited onboard processing capabilities. Swarming can allow micro-drones to transcend these limitations, allowing them to achieve complex tasks outside of the reach of the individual. Still, there are many challenges on the way to realizing the potential of swarming in real-world settings. A crucial issue is the relative perception problem when it comes to implementing flying swarms in real life. Handling a swarm with a global infrastructure (e.g., GPS, radio beacons, or global communication) might be convenient in many cases but it is not a suitable solution in all scenarios. The focus of this special issue is on decentralized approaches to swarming. This poses challenges of robot-to-robot perception. When solved in a scalable way, such perception can be suited for reliable and fast agile maneuvers such as those performed by flocks of birds or schools of fish. Additional challenges lie at the individual level. For example, on micro-drones ego-motion estimation, obstacle detection and avoidance, and navigation are active research areas due to the restricted resources. The individual capabilities influence the possibilities for the swarm.

This special issue solicits high-quality scientific contributions on the distributed control of collective behavior either in natural or artificial systems, but with a clear relevance to drone swarms. We encourage submissions of research contributions that advance our theoretical understanding of decision-making, planning, or control in natural and artificial swarms and report experimental investigations with swarms of drones. We are particularly interested in innovative solutions that master uncertainty and ensure multi-level robustness in swarms of drones (e.g.: robust local control, fault-tolerant coordination, and consistency of global planning during the design of decentralized decision-making systems).

Contributions to this special issue should focus on “Cross-disciplinary approaches for designing intelligent swarms of drones” and may fall in any combination of the following research areas:

• Swarm robotics
• Collective animal behavior
• Network science
• Information theory in the context of swarm behavior
• Decentralized wireless sensor networks
• Computational modeling of collective behavior
• Decentralized decision-making
• Self-organized systems
• Distributed control
• Decentralized motion planning

Example topics include:

• Study of collective behavior of gregarious animals relevant to drone swarms
• Relative perception of other swarm members
• Distributed sensing for situational awareness of swarms
• Communication in drone swarms
• Decentralized control of drone swarms
• Experimental developments that will permit real-world applications

Paper Submission:

All manuscripts must be prepared according to the publication guidelines of the Swarm Intelligence Journal that can be found at the journal website: 
Prospective authors are invited to submit their papers using the online submission system of the journal at http: // selecting Special Issue on “Cross-disciplinary approaches for designing intelligent swarms of drones” as the article type.

Guest Editors:

  • Pr. Guido C. H. E. de Croon, Micro Air Vehicle Lab, Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands (
  • Dr. Wolfgang Hönig, Intelligent Multi-Robot Coordination Lab, Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Technical University Berlin, Germany (
  • Dr. Guy Theraulaz, Centre de Recherches sur la Cognition Animale, Centre de Biologie Intégrative, Université de Toulouse, CNRS, UPS, Toulouse, France (
  • Dr. Gábor Vásárhelyi, Department of Biological Physics, Eötvös Loránd University, Pázmány Péter sétány 1/A, 1117 Budapest, Hungary (