Swarm robotics are expected to revolutionize a large number of industrial applications, during the upcoming few years, that range from miniaturization, agriculture and mining to disaster rescue missions. Nevertheless, many of the innate features that render swarm robots ideal for some future applications, such as autonomous robotics, decentralized control and collective emergent behavior,  crimp the evolution of the swarm robotics technology from being nothing more than some experimental projects in academic institutions to innovations that can solve real world problems.
The blockchain technology can totally transform the world of swarm robotics. Combining the blockchain technology with swarm robotic systems, which are also decentralized systems, can render various robotic swarming operations more autonomous, secure, flexible and even incentivizing. A recently published paper explained how the blockchain technology can address four essential issues that are currently hindering the development of  swarm robotics; security, behavior differentiation, decision making and business models.
 
What is Swarm Robotics?
Swarm robotics represents a novel approach to the coordination of systems comprised of multiple robots, which are usually in the form of a large number of simple robots. It is postulated that a specific collective behavior originates from the interactions taking place between the robots themselves, and those taking place between the robots and the environment. Swarm robotics emerged from artificial swarm intelligence. Moreover, it is largely inspired by biological studies of birds and insects that exhibit swarm behavior.
Swarming, or swarm behavior, is a form of behavior exhibited by groups of animals, particularly birds and insects, of similar size  which gather together, milling around a particular spot, or maybe migrating in a specific direction.
Apart from distributed robotic systems, swarm robotics relies on a relatively large number of robots, and also bolsters scalability e.g. via the use of only local means of communication. Such local means of communication can include wireless transmission systems such as infrared or radio frequency.
 
How Can the Blockchain Technology Help In The Development of Swarm Robotics?
Through their published paper, the researchers delved into how combining the blockchain technology with swarm robotics can mitigate the four main issues that hinder the development of swarm robotic systems; security, behavior differentiation, decision making and business models.  This can be achieved via turning robots into nodes across a network and encapsulating their transactions onto blocks along a blockchain. As such, novel security approaches can be deployed to provide robot swarms with entity validation and data confidentiality, thus, rendering them appropriate for trust sensitive applications.
Moreover, decentralized decision making and collaborative tasks can be easily formulated, deployed and executed via public ledger transactions, which will enable robots to vote and reach a consensus. Also, with implementation of the blockchain technology, robots will be able to operate in various changeable environments, provided that their operation corresponds to various blockchain ledgers which utilize different parameters, without having to modify their basic control algorithms.
 
To sum up, the blockchain technology can boost robots’ flexibility without having to increase the complexity of swarming. The blockchain technology can provide an innovative infrastructure that ensures that swarm robotics comply to legal, as well as safety regulations, as they are increasingly being integrated into the life of humans.
 
 
Image from Flickr
 
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