Master thesis

 2019
Swarms found in nature prove their potential as a solution to various problems time and time again, doing so in many sizes and at many locations. They are flexible, robust and highly interactive. SwarmLab is a simulation environment which provides an iterative process of simulation, observation and reconfiguration, allowing for the development of artificial swarms. This evolutionary process makes the immense potential of swarms as a technology accessible to a wide range of users and use cases.
My Master thesis is a direct continuation of my Bachelor thesis.

#storyboard #userjourney #unity #csharp #origamistudio #javascript #blender #adobephotoshop #adobeillustrator #adobeindesign
research and exploration
My Bachelor thesis’ final experiment showed that swarms can’t be designed based on purely theoretical knowledge. In order to create swarms that solve problems or even explore their near infinite potential by experimentation, one would need a simulation environment that respects all complexities that make a swarm, including physics. If I wanted to design a swarm, I would need to create my own design tool first.
Unity is an environment that is capable of simulating all influences needed for the realistic observation and quick reconfiguration of swarms. With Unity, I built a tool with which it is possible to design and explore swarms in an evolutionary process.
The programming language C# provided me with the opportunity to configure every element of the simulation.
Similar to the Petri Dishes from my Bachelor thesis, I named this now three dimensional tool “Petrispace”. I systematically created and observed over a hundred swarms, in the search for patterns that looked promising for future applications.
I preserved most of these swarms on their own Petrispace website.
concepts
After isolating six patterns from the Petrispace, I derived several concepts by putting them into different contexts, such as the swarm size, speed, the location of its application etc.
software development
Just before fleshing out one of these concepts though, it occurred to me that I was now holding a tool for swarm design in my hands and decided that I would rather like to make this tool accessible to more people than use it to create just one exemplary application. Thus, I started designing a software for swarm design.
Paper prototypes helped me to spatially localize the tools and sections of this software, creating a laboratory for creating swarms.
The SwarmLab contains a virtual space in which components can be placed. Environments such as cities with people could be created and then populated by swarms with different sensors and behaviors.
Interesting swarms can be preserved and exported to other workflows, such as arduino code, allowing for a fast transition into physical prototyping.
An interactive dummy prototype was created in Origami Studio, which is a node based UI design tool.
SwarmLab is a tool for swarm design and swarm finding by providing the iterative and explorative workflow of configuration, simulation and observation.
Simon von Schmude