Value at Risk strategies for robot swarms in hazardous environments

Edmund R Hunt, Conor B Cullen, Sabine Hauert

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Contribution (Conference Proceeding)

2 Citations (Scopus)
214 Downloads (Pure)


A promising application of swarm robotics is environmental monitoring, whereby large numbers of self-organizing agents are deployed concurrently to gather information on a short- or long-term basis. The greater resilience and attritability of a swarm system may be particularly valuable in hazardous or adversarial environments where a proportion of agents are likely to be damaged or destroyed. In such contexts the profitable information gathered by sensor payloads on robots is associated with material risk. Relatively little work has been done to consider how to manage this risk autonomously and effectively at the individual and system level. The field of financial risk management provides pre-existing tools and frameworks to get a head-start on this challenge. The method of Value at Risk (VaR) allows the easy quantification of prospective losses over a defined time period and confidence interval. Here, we consider VaR in a multi-agent context where the environment is intrinsically risky, for example containing damaging radiation sources. In agent-based simulations, individuals calculate VaR in real time and broadcast a self-triggered alert to their neighbors when their VaR limit is breached, helping them to avoid the area. This minimal communication system is effective at decreasing overall swarm exposure to hazards, while permitting agents to make risk-weighted explorations of hazardous areas. We further discuss the opportunity for finance-inspired risk management frameworks to be developed in the multi-agent systems context.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProc. SPIE 11758
Subtitle of host publicationUnmanned Systems Technology XXIII
EditorsHoa G. Nguyen, Paul L. Muench, Brian K. Skibba
PublisherSociety of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE)
ISBN (Electronic)9781510643536
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2021
EventSPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing - Online
Duration: 12 Apr 202116 Apr 2021

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X
ISSN (Electronic)1996-756X


ConferenceSPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing
Internet address

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
EH acknowledges support from the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Office of the Chief Science Adviser for National Security under the UK Intelligence Community Postdoctoral Fellowship Programme.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 SPIE.


  • swarm robotics
  • risk management
  • value at risk
  • environmental monitoring
  • hazards


Dive into the research topics of 'Value at Risk strategies for robot swarms in hazardous environments'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this