With increasing numbers of mobile robots arriving in real-world applications, more robots coexist in the same space, interact, and possibly collaborate. Methods to provide such systems with system size scalability are known, for example, from swarm robotics. Example strategies are self-organizing behavior, a strict decentralized approach, and limiting the robot-robot communication. Despite applying such strategies, any multi-robot system breaks above a certain critical system size (i.e., number of robots) as too many robots share a resource (e.g., space, communication channel). We provide additional evidence based on simulations, that at these critical system sizes, the system performance separates into two phases: nearly optimal and minimal performance. We speculate that in real-world applications that are configured for optimal system size, the supposedly high-performing system may actually live on borrowed time as it is on a transient to breakdown. We provide two modeling options (based on queueing theory and a population model) that may help to support this reasoning.
* Submitted to the 2024 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and
Automation (ICRA 2024)