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Special Issue: Agents and Robots for Reliable Engineered Autonomy

Department of Computer Science, The University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, UK
Department of Computer Science, Bioengineering, Robotics and Systems Engineering (DIBRIS), University of Genova, 16145 Genova, Italy
Department of Informatics, Systems and Communication (DISCO), University of Milano Bicocca, 20126 Milan, Italy
Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust, University of Luxembourg, L-4365 Luxembourg, Luxembourg
Department of Informatics, Clausthal University of Technology, 38678 Clausthal-Zellerfeld, Germany
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
J. Sens. Actuator Netw. 2021, 10(3), 47;
Received: 2 July 2021 / Accepted: 6 July 2021 / Published: 13 July 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agents and Robots for Reliable Engineered Autonomy)
The study of autonomous agents is a well-established area that has been researched for decades, both from a design and implementation viewpoint. Nonetheless, the application of agents in real-world scenarios is largely adopted when logical distribution is needed, but it is still limited when physical distribution is necessary. In parallel, robots are no longer used only in industrial applications but are instead applied in an increasing number of domains, ranging from robotic assistants to search and rescue. Robots in these applications often benefit from (or require) some level of (semi or full) autonomy. Thus, multi-agent solutions can be exploited in robotic scenarios, considering their strong similarity both in terms of logical distribution and interaction among autonomous entities.
The autonomous behavior responsible for decision making should (ideally) be verifiable since these systems are expensive to produce and are often deployed in safety-critical situations. Thus, verification and validation are important and necessary steps toward providing assurances about the reliability of autonomy in these systems. Likewise, software engineering techniques are an integral part of development in order to make sure that the systems meet requirements.
This Special Issue brings together researchers from the autonomous agents, software engineering and robotics communities, as combining knowledge from these three research areas may lead to innovative approaches that solve complex problems related with the verification and validation of autonomous robotic systems. We (the Special Issue editors) have written a perspective paper (peer-reviewed by members of the editorial board of the journal) that is included in our Special Issue [1]; in the perspective, we give an overview of recent research trends for researchers that aim at working in the intersection of these research areas.
This Special Issue was created based on the topics discussed at the First Workshop on Agents and Robots for reliable Engineered Autonomy ( accessed on 30 June 2021) (AREA 2020). One of the accepted papers in the workshop was invited to extend their work and underwent additional peer-review evaluation before being accepted for publication [2]. Paper [2] contains details about an architecture for linking robots with autonomous agents applied to a case study of campus mail delivery.
The other three remaining papers, refs. [3,4,5], were all new submissions. Paper [3] introduces a novel formal verification approach by combining the use of two well-known model checkers to verify the decision making in self-driving vehicles; it evaluates the resulting hybrid technique on a robotic simulator with a rational agent performing the decision making. Paper [4] is also applied to the autonomous automotive domain using agent-based control, but it is focused on the traffic rules that govern road junctions; it applies two different model checkers to assess the behavior of the agent at two different levels (design and development). Paper [5] provides an interpretation of the multi-agent systems as part of the aggregate programming paradigm to support the programming of collective autonomous behavior. Table 1 shows an overview of the main areas discussed in each paper of the Special Issue.
We hope that the different research communities that are represented in our Special Issue will improve their collaboration efforts in the future so that the best proposals from these different areas can be combined to create new and exciting solutions and tools to be exploited both in academia and in industry.


This work received no external funding.


First and foremost, we would like to thank all authors that have submitted their work to this Special Issue as well as the anonymous reviewers that made many comments and suggestions leading to improved versions of the submissions. We would also like to thank the support of everyone in the Journal of Sensor and Actuator Networks editorial office—in particular, the managing editor Louise Liu—and the academics from the editorial board that contributed to the editing process.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


  1. Cardoso, R.C.; Ferrando, A.; Briola, D.; Menghi, C.; Ahlbrecht, T. Agents and Robots for Reliable Engineered Autonomy: A Perspective from the Organisers of AREA 2020. J. Sens. Actuator Netw. 2021, 10, 33. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  2. Onyedinma, C.; Gavigan, P.; Esfandiari, B. Toward Campus Mail Delivery Using BDI. J. Sens. Actuator Netw. 2020, 9, 56. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  3. Al-Nuaimi, M.; Wibowo, S.; Qu, H.; Aitken, J.; Veres, S. Hybrid Verification Technique for Decision-Making of Self-Driving Vehicles. J. Sens. Actuator Netw. 2021, 10, 42. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  4. Alves, G.V.; Dennis, L.; Fisher, M. A Double-Level Model Checking Approach for an Agent-Based Autonomous Vehicle and Road Junction Regulations. J. Sens. Actuator Netw. 2021, 10, 41. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  5. Casadei, R.; Aguzzi, G.; Viroli, M. A Programming Approach to Collective Autonomy. J. Sens. Actuator Netw. 2021, 10, 27. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
Table 1. Distribution of the papers across the main areas of the Special Issue.
Table 1. Distribution of the papers across the main areas of the Special Issue.
and Validation
Paper [1]
Paper [2]
Paper [3]
Paper [4]
Paper [5]
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MDPI and ACS Style

Cardoso, R.C.; Ferrando, A.; Briola, D.; Menghi, C.; Ahlbrecht, T. Special Issue: Agents and Robots for Reliable Engineered Autonomy. J. Sens. Actuator Netw. 2021, 10, 47.

AMA Style

Cardoso RC, Ferrando A, Briola D, Menghi C, Ahlbrecht T. Special Issue: Agents and Robots for Reliable Engineered Autonomy. Journal of Sensor and Actuator Networks. 2021; 10(3):47.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Cardoso, Rafael C., Angelo Ferrando, Daniela Briola, Claudio Menghi, and Tobias Ahlbrecht. 2021. "Special Issue: Agents and Robots for Reliable Engineered Autonomy" Journal of Sensor and Actuator Networks 10, no. 3: 47.

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