IRIDIA
Université Libre de Bruxelles
50, Av. F. Roosevelt, CP 194/6
B-1050, Brussels, Belgium
Contact:
email: volker.strobel87 [at] gmail.com
skype: pold_pold
tel: +32-2-650 27 12

Volker Strobel (PhD research fellow)

I'm Volker, a PhD research fellow (F.R.S.-FNRS Aspirant research fellowship) at the Artificial Intelligence lab IRIDIA since September 2016.

My supervisor is Prof. Marco Dorigo.

In my thesis, I investigate the possibilities and limitations of combining swarm robotics methods and blockchain technology for the secure coordination of robot swarms.

I am funded by an F.R.S.-FNRS Aspirant research fellowship (full PhD grant).

Download my full CV as PDF (last updated: May 2018)

News:
January 2018:
Our paper "Managing Byzantine Robots via Blockchain Technology in a Swarm Robotics Collective Decision Making Scenario" was accepted for the AAMAS 2018 robotics track.
preprint @ IRIDIA tech. reports

October 2017:
I was granted an F.R.S.-FNRS Aspirant research fellowship (full PhD grant).


Research

A robot swarm consists of a large number of autonomous robots that exploit self-organization to coordinate their activities and to solve complex problems that are beyond the capabilities of the single robots. Even though the inherent robustness to failure, scalability, and flexibility of a self-organized system makes of robot swarms ideal candidates for a number of real world tasks, current studies have limited their attention to safe laboratory settings and have virtually ignored security issues.


The main goal of my PhD project is to build a secure robot swarm that is scalable to real-world applications. To enable this, I address security issues such as how to certify the swarm behavior and how to make the swarm behavior tamper proof in a fully decentralized way. In the project, the swarm members interact and coordinate via a blockchain, a distributed database first developed in the context of the digital currency Bitcoin. The blockchain is intended to establish a secure communication medium for the robot swarm. Smart contracts—programming code on the blockchain that is automatically executed if a specified event occurs—will introduce unstoppable and secure coordination mechanisms using the Ethereum framework. The project seeks to investigate possibilities and limitations of combining blockchain and swarm robotics technologies to produce secure robot swarms.


I conduct experiments to test robot swarm coordination mechanisms based on smart contracts and blockchains and I analyze the obtained swarm dynamics and evaluate their robustness in a number of different scenarios. My objectives are to identify critical steps in designing secure systems, to show implications of attacker strategies, and to propose solutions to security challenges in swarm robotics.


Publications

Strobel V., Castello Ferrer E. and Dorigo M. (2018), "Managing Byzantine Robots via Blockchain Technology in a Swarm Robotics Collective Decision Making Scenario." To appear in Proceedings of the 17th Conference on Autonomous Agents and MultiAgent Systems. International Foundation for Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems (AAMAS 2018).
BibTeX (pre-print tech. report):
@techreport{StrCasDor2017:techreport,
  author = {Strobel, Volker and Castello Ferrer, Eduardo and Dorigo, Marco},
  title = {Managing Byzantine Robots via Blockchain Technology in a Swarm Robotics Collective Decision Making Scenario},
  year = {2017},
  institution = {IRIDIA, Universit{\'e} Libre de Bruxelles}
  address = {Brussels, Belgium}
  number = {TR/IRIDIA/2017-013}
}
Strobel V., Meertens R. and de Croon G.C.H.E. (2017), "Efficient Global Indoor Localization for Micro Aerial Vehicles." The 9th International Micro Air Vehicle Conference and Flight Competition (IMAV 2017), Toulouse, France, September 18-21, 2017.
BibTeX:
@inproceedings{StrMeeCro2016:arxiv,
  author = {V. Strobel and R. Meertens and G. C. H. E. de Croon},
  title = {Efficient Global Indoor Localization for Micro Aerial Vehicles},
  year = {2017},
  booktitle = {The 9th International Micro Air Vehicle Conference and Flight Competition (IMAV 2017)},
  address = {Toulouse, France}
}
Strobel V. and Kirsch A. (2014), "Planning in the Wild: Modeling Tools for PDDL", In KI 2014: Advances in Artificial Intelligence, January, 2014. Springer.
Abstract: Even though there are sophisticated AI planning algorithms, many integrated, large-scale projects do not use planning. One reason seems to be the missing support by engineering tools such as syntax highlighting and visualization. We propose myPDDL--a modular toolbox for efficiently creating PDDL domains and problems. To evaluate myPDDL, we compare it to existing knowledge engineering tools for PDDL and experimentally assess its usefulness for novice PDDL users.
BibTeX:
@incollection{StrKir2014:aai,
  author = {Volker Strobel and Alexandra Kirsch},
  title = {Planning in the Wild: Modeling Tools for PDDL},
  booktitle = {KI 2014: Advances in Artificial Intelligence},
  publisher = {Springer},
  year = {2014},
  url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-11206-0_27},
  doi = {10.1007/978-3-319-11206-0_27}
}