A group of flying, rolling Robots called Swarmanoids stole the limelight and won the best video award at the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) Video Competition 2011 last week.

The AI Video Competition took place in San Francisco, California between Aug. 7 and Aug. 11.

The Swarmanoid project, which is coordinated by Professor Marco Dorigo, is a Future and Emerging Technologies (FET-OPEN) project funded by the European Commission.

The main scientific objective of this research project is the design, implementation and control of a novel distributed robotic system. The system is made up of heterogeneous, dynamically connected, small autonomous robots.

Collectively, these robots are called as swarmanoid. The swarmanoid is comprised of numerous (about 60) autonomous robots of three types: eye-bots, hand-bots, and foot-bots.


The hand-bot is a fully new concept of robot specialized in both climbing vertical surfaces and manipulating objects. The hand-bot is not able to move on the ground and has a very weak perception of distant environment.

Hand-Bot Features:

Compact size: 38 x 44 x 30 cm

Vertical mobility using a rope launched by the robot to magnetically attach to the ceiling

Two grippers for aid to the mobility and object manipulation

Otherwise the technology (processors, camera, most sensors) is shared with foot-bots and eye-bots



The eye-bot has eight rotors, arranged in a coaxial quadrotor configuration, that provide the main lifting force and control. The co-axial arrangement allows for a smaller size and increased payload capability.


Eye-bot Features:

Robust and light weight body, 50 cm in diameter

Jigsaw-like carbon-fiber airframe assembly

Eight powerful and efficient brushless motors

Endurance of 10-20min

Simple collision protection system for indoors

Ceiling attachment device (extend mission endurance, acquire birds eye view of environment & stabilise camera system)

IMX.31 CPU, same as the foot-bot and hand-bot

Designed or swarm operation ad coordination

Eye-bot Sensing Abilities:

Custom 360° pan-tilt camera system, equipped with 3MP camera

Optical 360° infrared environment distance scanner

Advanced 3D relative positioning sensor for swarm coordination/communication

Custom 6-Degree of freedom inertial sensing

Sonar and differential pressure sensors for altitude determination

Magnetometer for heading determination

Horizontal RGB led rings (local visual communication)



The foot-bot is a particular configuration of modules based on the marXbot robotic platform. The foot-bot configuration includes a top CPU and vision module, a distance scanner, a range and bearing module, a self-assembling module and a basic (mobility & battery) module.


Foot-bot Features:

Compact size: 17 cm diameter x 29 cm, 1.8 kg

Modular system

High computational power including float processing

Distance scanner measuring distance up to 1.5m

Two cameras, one mounted as omnicamera

Self-assembling mechanism

Hot-swappable battery


Swarmanoid uses a group of different robots to accomplish their goals, but these robots are divided into classes each with their own special skills. Their heterogenius makeup and redundant nature means that Swarmanoid is designed to be better and more reliable than individual robots or homogenius swarms.

Following is the video that won the award at AAAI Competition: