In nature, groups of thousands of individuals cooperate to create complex structure purely through local interactions -- cells, ants, bees, fish. Even though each individual has limited ability, as a collective they achieve tremendous complexity. What would it take to create our own artificial collectives of the scale and complexity that nature achieves? Our group is interested in understanding and engineering self-organizing swarms, where large numbers of relatively simple agents cooperate to produce complex collective behavior. We design and build novel bio-inspired robots and swarm algorithms, focusing on the combination of embodied intelligence and collective intelligence. We also study self-organization in nature, in collaboration with biologists. Our work spans Robotics, AI, and Biology.

Lab News

IROS Plenary (Kyoto, Japan)

Oct 2022: Prof.Nagpal gave a Plenary talk at the IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS) in Kyoto, Japan. SSR Lab alum and swarms expert, Prof. Sabine Hauert of Bristol University also gave a keynote talk.

Nature Outlook (Nagpal and Wissa)

Sept 2022: Nature Outlook interviewed Prof. Nagpal and Prof. Wissa about their lab's research on bio-inspired robots that can swim, jump, and fly inspired by fish, grasshoppers, and birds

Amazon Robotics Day 1 Fellows

July 2022: Amazon Robotics held its first Day 1 Fellowship Summit, bringing together 18 talented fellows from underrepresented backgrounds, receiving their masters degrees at top…

Army Ants, Bridges, and Hysteresis!

March 2022: Congrats to Dr. Helen McCreery and Georgina Gemayel for their paper in Nature Communications! (open access) discovering and modeling how hysteresis emerges in collective self-assembly.

Recent Publications


Berlinger F, Ebert J, Nagpal R. Impressionist Algorithms for Autonomous Multi-Robot Systems: Flocking As a Case Study. In: IEEE RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS). Kyoto, Japan; 2022.
Ebert J, Berlinger F, Haghighat B, Nagpal R. A Hybrid PSO Algorithm for Multi-Robot Target Search and Decision Awareness. In: IEEE RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS). Kyoto, Japan; 2022.
Ebert J. Distributed Decision-making Algorithms for Inspection by Autonomous Robot Collectives. PhD Thesis, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (CS), Harvard University. 2022.
Gonzalez E, Houel L, Nagpal R, Malley M. Influencing Emergent Self-Assembled Structures in Robotic Collectives Through Traffic Control. In: Intl Conf. on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems (AAMAS). 2022.
Haghighat B, Boghaert J, Minsky-Primus Z, Ebert J, Liu F, swarm MNIC on SI (Swarm robotics and, et al. An Approach Based on Particle Swarm Optimization for Inspection of Spacecraft Hulls by a Swarm of Miniaturized Robots. In: Intl. Conf. on Swarm Intelligence (ANTS). 2022.


Berlinger F, Gauci M, Nagpal R. Implicit coordination for 3D underwater collective behaviors in a fish-inspired robot swarm. Science Robotics. 2021;6(50).
Berlinger F, Wulkop P, Nagpal R. Self-Organized Evasive Fountain Maneuvers with a Bio-inspired Underwater Robot Collective. In: Intl. Conference on Automation and Robotics (ICRA). 2021.