Swarms of Riderless Unicycles: research roundup

If you thought that the words ‘Unicycle’ and ‘Swarm’ are rarely found in close proximity to each other, you would be mistaken. In fact, the last few years have seen a great deal of academic effort directed specifically at the possibilities offered by a ‘Swarms of Unicycles’. Here are some recent examples from the many dozens of formally published scholarly studies which feature, in some way or other, swarms of (riderless) unicycles.

• Adaptive fuzzy formation control for a swarm of nonholonomic differentially driven vehicles  (2012)

• Self-organization of unicycle swarm robots based on a modified particle swarm framework (2010)

• Connectedness Preserving Distributed Swarm Aggregation for Multiple Kinematic Robots (2008)

• Robust self-organization for swarm robots (2008)

All this has prompted Improbable to endeavour (somewhat) to find out where the idea of swarming unicycles first originated. So far, the earliest concrete example we can find was the paper presented at the 43rd IEEE Conference on Decision and Control, Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas in December, 2004. The work was entitled : Feasibility for Formation Stabilization of Multiple Unicycles in which : “The feasibility problem is studied of achieving a specified formation among a group of autonomous unicycles by local distributed control.”


Can a group of swarming unicycles be considered a single entity – if so, what should it be called? (Bearing in mind that a unicycle, by definition, can only have one wheel)


The above video of the semi-autonomous self-balancing robotic unicycle is provided courtesy of researcher Daniel Fernández de Velasco, who also builds ‘UFOs’ – shown here: