Welcome to DKE SwarmLab at Maastricht University
This is the homepage of DKE SwarmLab - the Laboratory for Cognitive Robotics and Complex Self-Organizing Systems at the Department of Data Science and Knowledge Engineering (DKE), Maastricht University. DKE SwarmLab is embedded within the Robots, Agents and Interaction (RAI) research group.
The lab directors are Rico Möckel and Gerhard Weiss. DKE SwarmLab is generously sponsored by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), the province Limbourg, and Maastricht University.
Swarmlab was founded by Karl Tuyls with an NWO (middelgroot) grant in 2010; he had been director of Swarmlab from 2010-2014. In 2014 Rico Möckel became a lab director and since then has aligned the lab’s research and application foci.
Today the Swarmlab focuses on gaining a deep understanding of the design and control of biological and artificial intelligent systems and on using the obtained knowledge for the creation of novel intelligent software and robotic tools for improving the quality of life of the people around us.
The three pillars of SwarmLab
To obtain our goals we combine research in robotics, data science, social science, neuroscience, and artificial intelligence. At DKE SwarmLab we follow three main pillars to develop novel solutions:
Robotics meets Data Science
From the many challenges in robotics in order to achieve truely cognitive artificial systems, a key challenge is the extraction of knowledge from data. While nowadays we can integrate a variety of sensors into a machine, extracting relevant knowlegde from sensory data as the basis for autonomously formed decisions, remains a key challenge for artificial intelligent systems. This is in contrast to biological cognitive systems like humans that seem to quickly extract relevant knowledge by observing their environment with little effort. At DKE SwarmLab we process knowledge for autonomous decision makeing in artificial intelligent systems and to support decision making of human operators for instance in business applications that require large amounts of complex data.
The Intelligence is in the Network
The human brain is composed of tenths of billions of neurons forming over 100 trillion connections. Thus our ability to think and to extract knowledge is based on a massive network of relatively simple neurons. Our intelligence lies in the network of these neurons - not just in the neurons themselves. That makes each individual human a swarm intelligence. At DKE SwarmLab we study swarm intelligence, networks, and distributed systems because we believe that understanding these is the key to achieve high-performing cognitive and autonomous systems.
Learning and Self-Organization are the Key
Robust and well-performing cognitive and autonomous biological systems are not pre-programmed like many human-made machines but organize themselves and learn to sucessfully adapt to new situations. Neurons in the human brain use sophisticated mechanisms to organize themselves into a functioning brain structure. The most sophisticated biological bodies have been evolved overy millions of years. At DKE SwarmLab we place special emphasis into the study of mechanisms for self-organization like artificial evolution, optimization techniques, and machine learning in order to achieve robust software and robotic tools that adapt, learn, and organize themselves into sophisticated intelligent systems.