Swarm robotics is the use of numerous, autonomous robotics to accomplish a task. Robot swarms coordinate the behaviours of a large number of relatively simple robots in a decentralised manner. Swarm robotics plays an important role in the development of collective artificial intelligence (AI). Current uses for robot swarms include search and rescue, precision agriculture, supply chain management (SCM) and military reconnaissance.
Swarm robotics attempts to draw on the ways social organisms, such as insects, use collaborative behaviors to achieve complex tasks beyond any individual’s capability. For example, researchers in swarm robotics might study how bees mark trails with pheromones to map geographical locations. The researchers might then use the bee's algorithms to replicate that same behavior with robots.
This video from PBS Digital Studios takes a look at robot swarms.