Robot swarms have recently become of interest in both industry and academia for their potential to perform various difficult or dangerous tasks efficiently. As real robot swarms become more of a possibility, many desire swarms to be controlled or directed by a human, which raises questions regarding how that should be done. Part of the challenge of human-swarm interaction is the difficulty of understanding swarm state and how to drive the swarm to produce emergent behaviors. Human input could inhibit desirable swarm behaviors if their input is poor and has sufficient influence over swarm agents, affecting its overall performance. Thus, with too little influence, human input is useless, but with too much, it can be destructive. We suggest that there is some middle level, or interval, of human influence that allows the swarm to take advantage of useful human input while minimizing the effect of destructive input. Further, we propose that human-swarm interaction schemes can be designed to maintain an appropriate level of human influence over the swarm and maintain or improve swarm performance in the presence of both useful and destructive human input. We test this theory by implementing a piece of software to dynamically moderate influence and then testing it with a simulated honey bee colony performing nest site selection, simulated human input, and actual human input via a user study. The results suggest that moderating influence, as suggested, is important for maintaining high performance in the presence of both useful and destructive human input. However, while our software seems to successfully moderate influence with simulated human input, it fails to do so with actual human input.



College and Department

Physical and Mathematical Sciences; Computer Science

Date Submitted


Document Type





Human swarm interaction, human robot interaction, swarms, robot swarms