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

The Swarm Garden @ Lewis Art Complex, CoLab

Apr 9, 2024: The Swarm Garden exhibit showcases how swarm intelligence and adaptive architecture can create "living-like" environments. At the Lewis Arts Complex's CoLab, over a 100 visitors experienced firsthand the blend of art and engineering, witnessing how these dynamic spaces promote health and happiness. Not to mention…

Fish, Robots, and Fluid Stigmergy

Oct 25, 2023: Dr. Hungtang Ko's paper is finally out! Check out our review article in Royal Society Interface: "The role of hydrodynamics in collective motions of fish schools and bioinspired underwater robots" We are also the Nov cover photo!

Sante Fe Institute & Lensic Theatre Lecture

Oct 18, 2023: Prof. Radhika Nagpal gave the Sante Fe Institute's Community Lecture at the Lensic Performing Arts Center in Sante Fe, NM. She talked about AI, army ants, self-assembling robots, and zeroG flights.

Demo Expos @ IROS 2023

Oct 4, 2023: Dr. Merihan Alhafnawi and Dr. Di Ni showed off the new Swarm Garden modules and our BlueSwarm robots at the IROS Conference Robot Demonstration Expo in Detroit. Lots of visitors stopped by to see our systems in action.

Recent Publications


Chiu D, Nagpal R, Haghighat B. Optimization and Evaluation of a Multi Robot Surface Inspection Task Through Particle Swarm Optimization. In: IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA). 2024.


Ko H, Lauder G, Nagpal R. The role of hydrodynamics in collective motions of fish schools and bioinspired underwater robots. Journal of the Royal Society, Interface. 2023;20(207):20230357.


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. Distributed Decision-making Algorithms for Inspection by Autonomous Robot Collectives. PhD Thesis, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (CS), Harvard University. 2022.