Computer Science ETDs


Karl Stolleis

Publication Date



Interest in swarm robotics, particularly those modeled on biological systems, has been increasing with each passing year. We created the iAnt robot as a platform to test how well an ant-inspired robotic swarm could collect resources in an unmapped environment. Although swarm robotics is still a loosely defined field, one of the included hallmarks is multiple robots cooperating to complete a given task. The use of multiple robots means increased cost for research, scaling often linearly with the number of robots. We set out to create a system with the previously described capabilities while lowering the entry cost by building simple, cheap robots able to operate outside of a dedicated lab environment. Obstacle avoidance has long been a necessary component of robot systems. Avoiding collisions is also a difficult problem and has been studied for many years. As part of moving the iAnt further towards the real-world we needed a method of obstacle avoidance. Our hypothesis is that use of biological methods including evolution, stochastic movements and stygmergic trails into the iAnt Central Place Foraging Algorithm (CPFA) could result in robot behaviors suited to navigating obstacle-filled environments. The result is a modification of the CPFA to include pheromone trails, CPFA-Trails or CPFAT. This thesis first demonstrates the low-cost, simple and robust design of the physical iAnt robot. Secondly we will demonstrate the adaptability of the the system to evolve and succeed in an obstacle-laden environment.




robot, swarm robotics, ant, genetic algorithm, foraging, obstacle avoidance, biologically inspired, in situ resource utilization, evolution, robot behavior

Document Type


Degree Name

Computer Science

Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Computer Science

First Advisor

Moses, Melanie

First Committee Member (Chair)

Tapia, Lydia

Second Committee Member

Fierro, Rafael

Project Sponsors

New Mexico Space Grant Consortium NASA Kennedy Space Center