Design and Coordination of Micro- to Macro-Scale Swarms
9-10 June 2016, Radolfzell, Germany

Photo: Thomas Endlein

We are pleased to announce the First Max Planck ETH Workshop on Design and Coordination of Micro- to Macro-Scale Swarms. The workshop will take place June 9-10th 2016 at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology (MPI-ORN) in Radolfzell, Germany. We cordially invite all interested researchers from the Center for Learning Systems and fellow lab members, as well as members of the Couzin and Wikelski departments at MPI-ORN to participate and actively contribute to this workshop.

Aims and Scope

Swarms exist on all scales in chemistry, molecular biology, entomology, and more recently, robotics. Here, dynamic interactions between large numbers of relatively simple individuals result in complex emergent global patterns. Take as an example the amazing coordination that occurs between thousands of bees in a hive, or millions of cells joining to form hierarchical organ systems with embedded parallel and distributed functions. The success of these systems is typically associated with robustness due to redundancy and the ability to adapt to perturbations. This workshop will allow experts and novices of all fields to identify and address bottlenecks and solutions to common challenges related to our understanding, design and operation of swarms. Key topics will include:

  • Coordination and Control How can local interactions between large numbers of simple individuals result in complex global patterns? Broad and detailed scientific talks will help to identify existing and novel strategies for coordination and control in different fields.
  • Agent Design Whether in real or artificial systems the individual agents of a swarm have common design features, including energy consumption, locomotion, and sensors. But just how advanced must the individuals be to achieve a specific global behavior? We invite speakers to discuss advantages and disadvantages of passive and active agents, as well as homogeneous and heterogeneous systems.
  • Scalability in numbers: from tens to millions of individuals The key to swarms is large numbers. But what challenges are involved in designing such highly scalable systems? We will focus on communication and sharing of information between the agents, as well as how to manufacture and maintain large numbers of agents.
  • Modelling We invite researchers to present swarm models to explore optimal design parameters, convergence guarantees, and reconfiguration strategies.
  • Assembly, re-configurability, and self-replicating systems An overarching goal for swarm systems include assembly, disassembly, re-configurability, dynamicity, and self-replication. Although these processes already take place in natural systems, replicating them in artificial ones have proven very hard. Recent scientific and technological progress, however, may pave the way for nano-to millimeter scale agents cooperating to manipulate matter.


The workshop will include around sixteen 15-20 min research talks and two poster/demo sessions. All attendees are encouraged to partake with a talk, poster, or demonstration. Please submit abstracts including your affiliation with the center by March 1st 2016 (max. 1 page). Talks will be chosen based on broad interest; the hope being to include as many different research fields as possible.


In addition to interactive presentations and short talks, we have invited five keynote speakers to talk of biological and artificial swarms. Two poster sessions and several social events will provide ample room for discussions and informal interactions.

We are excited to have the following invited speakers:

Workshop location (Radolfzell, Germany)

All workshop activities take place at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Vogelwarte Radolfzell.
Max Planck Institute for Ornithology
Vogelwarte Radolfzell
Am Obstberg 1
78315 Radolfzell
More information about arriving at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology can be found here


Schedule (talks) & poster sessions

Schedule (Preliminary)

June 9th (Thursday)

Description From To
Coffee, MPI-O E3.02 10:00 10:30
Opening talk 10:30 10:45
Keynote, Prof. Iain Couzin
Collective Behavior in Groups of Animals
10:45 11:45
Prof. Marco Dorigo
Collective Decision Making
11:45 12:05
Christoph Kleineidam
Task allocation in ants organized at the colony level
12:05 12:25
Lunch, workshop/information area 12:25 14:00
Wendong Wang
Programmable Self-assembly of Spinning Micro-rafts at Air-water Interface
14:00 14:20
Hakan Ceylan
Molecular Collectives
14:20 14:40
Byungwook Park
Biohybrid bacteria-driven microswimmers for targeted drug delivery systems
14:40 15:00
Coffee, MPI-O E3.02 15:00 15:30
Keynote, Maximilian Kriegleder
The Distributed Flight Array - from self- assembly to coordinated flight
15:30 16:30
Massimo Mastrangeli
Design and Control of Macro- and Microscale Assembling Systems
16:30 16:50
Vijayakumar Chikkadi
Self-organization in active colloidal systems
16:50 17:10
Samet Kocabey
Membrane-Assisted Growth of DNA Origami Nanostructure Arrays
17:10 17:30
Keynote, Prof. Sijbren Otto
Systems Chemistry
17:30 18:30
Dinner, MPI-O roof top terrace 19:00 20:00
Poster session 20:00 ...

June 10th (Friday)

Description From To
Breakfast, MPI-O guest house, MaxLounge 07:30 08:00
Coffee, MPI-O E3.02 08:00 08:30
Keynote, Prof. Andrew Turberfield Molecular Machinery from DNA 08:30 09:30
Dan Gorbonos
Long-range Acoustic Interactions in Insect Swarms - An Adaptive Gravity Model
09:30 09:50
Sebastian Trimpe, group leader
Control and Communication Architecture for Medium-sized Swarms
09:50 10:10
Invited talk by Director, Prof. Metin Sitti
Design and control of mobile microrobot teams and swarms
10:10 10:30
Coffee, MPI-O 2nd E3.02 / Poster session 10:30 12:00
Lunch, workshop/information area 12:00 13:30
Keynote, Prof. Auke Jan Ijspeert
Distributed control of locomotion in modular robots
13:30 14:30
Lauren Vasey and Tobias Schwinn
Digital and Physical Agent based Design and Construction methods
14:30 14:50
Rui Marcelino
Players interactions in winning and in losing teams
14:50 15:10
Prof. Kirstin H. Petersen
Construction by Robot Collectives
15:10 15:30
Anja Weidenmüller
Collective temperature homeostasis in bumblebee colonies
15:30 15:50
Summary talks 15:50 16:15
Drive home! 16:15 ...


Event registration is now closed


Thumb sprowitz

Alexander Sprowitz

MPI-IS, Physical Intelligence Department
Thumb ceylan

Hakan Ceylan

MPI-IS, Physical Intelligence Department
Thumb petersen

Kirstin Petersen

MPI-IS, Physical Intelligence Department