The CoCoRo project aims to create an autonomous swarm of interacting, cognitive robots. CoCoRo will develop a swarm of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) that are able to interact with each other and which can balance tasks. Focal tasks of the CoCoRo-swarms are: 
ecological monitoring, searching, maintaining, exploring and harvesting resources in underwater habitats.

  • Generating small autonomous underwater vehicles that are able to organize themselves with local neighbours.
  • Generating robust swarming motion principles that work also in natural, noisy and dynamic environments.
  • Generating swarm-level cognition within such an underwater swarm.
  • Comparing the achieved level of global cognition to biological reference organisms.
  • Developing cognition-based mechanisms that allow long-term survivability of systems.
  • Taking an interdisciplinary approach to address collective cognition and self-awareness issues.
  • Developing novel autonomic systems capable of swarm-level 

Cognition Generating Algorithms

Social insect trophallaxis Social insect communication Slime mold Artificial neural networks

Collective Movement Principles

Bird movement algorithms Fish school algorithm

Concepts and Objectives

Cognition has not evolved without reason in animals. Instead, the cognition observed in natural organisms helps these organisms to cope with complex and dynamic environments. Also in “technical habitats”, such as networks of ICT, applications are facing growing complexity and unpredictability.

By developing an embodied and distributed system of AUVs, CoCoRo researches the potential of cognition-generating software, which is supported by a suitable hardware concept. The reason for choosing an underwater scenario is that a robotic system in such an environment faces new challenges that have not yet been solved. The inability to easily access the system in situ requires a high degree of autonomy of the agents. The complex and unpredictable environment requires great flexibility of the system and the three-dimensional mobility of the AUVs requires novel engineering principles and robot control approaches. For this purpose, collective cognitive capabilities derived from animals (e.g. social insect societies) will be used underwater for the first time.

CoCoRo‘s novel bio-inspired algorithms will expand the current state-of-the-art in swarm intelligence and swarm cognition to real robotic underwater swarms. These control algorithms will be abstracted to a level that they can serve as basic building blocks also for other applications in ICT, economy and society. CoCoRo plans to evaluate the cognitive swarm system similarly to the way scientists evaluate the level of cognition in natural organisms. By performing sophisticated experiments (meta-cognition) CoCoRo will compare experimental results to nature, evaluate scientific progress and cast new light on existing interpretations in the fields of biology, theology, meta-cognition, psychology, and philosophy.

Swarm Levels

Global Swarm Level Local Swarm Level Individual Level
  • Long range communication
  • Distributed computing
  • Distributed map
  • Distributed memory
  • Heterogeneity of the swarm
  • Short range communication
  • Collision avoidance
  • Local validation of 
  • Redundancy of information
  • Novel hardware
  • Novel sensors and arrays
  • Novel actuators