Résumé : We introduce AutoMoDe: a novel approach to the automatic design of control software for robot swarms. The core idea in AutoMoDe recalls the approach commonly adopted in machine learning for dealing with the bias-variance tradedoff: to obtain suitably general solutions with low variance, an appropriate design bias is injected. AutoMoDe produces robot control software by selecting, instantiating, and combining preexisting parametric modules-the injected bias. The resulting control software is a probabilistic finite state machine in which the topology, the transition rules and the values of the parameters are obtained automatically via an optimization process that maximizes a task-specific objective function. As a proof of concept, we define AutoMoDe-Vanilla, which is a specialization of AutoMoDe for the e-puck robot. We use AutoMoDe-Vanilla to design the robot control software for two different tasks: aggregation and foraging. The results show that the control software produced by AutoMoDe-Vanilla (i) yields good results, (ii) appears to be robust to the so called reality gap, and (iii) is naturally human-readable. © 2014 Springer Science+Business Media New York.