MAES: a ROS 2-compatible simulation tool for exploration and coverage algorithms

Malte Z. Andreasen, Philip I. Holler, Magnus K. Jensen, Michele Albano*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
33 Downloads (Pure)


With the aim of allowing the efficient and realistic simulation of swarm algorithms for exploration and coverage, we present the tool Multi-Agent Exploration Simulator (MAES), which is an open-source physics-based discrete step multi-robot simulator. MAES features movement in a continuous 2D space, realistic physics based on the Unity framework, advanced visualization techniques such as heatmaps, custom wireless signal degradation, both randomly generated and custom user-provided maps, and a ROS (Robot Operating System) interface. This latter characteristic could allow to port the simulated algorithms to real-world robots. We present performance tests, conducted with rather modest hardware, showing that MAES is able to simulate up to 5 robots in ROSMode (using the ROS integration) and up to 120 robots in UnityMode (development performed directly into the C# Unity Editor). A usability test was conducted which hinted that the target audience of robotics researchers and developers is able to quickly install, setup, and use MAES for implementing simple robot logic.

Original languageEnglish
JournalArtificial Life and Robotics
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)757-770
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).


  • Autonomous robots
  • Continuous space
  • Multi-agent
  • Nav2
  • Robot operating system
  • Swarm robotics


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