Multi-robot systems have been studied in tasks that require the robots to be physically linked. In such a configuration, a group of robots may navigate a terrain that proves too difficult for a single robot. On the contrary, many collective tasks can be accomplished more efficiently by a group of independent robots. This paper is about swarm-bot, a robotic system that can operate in both configurations and autonomously switch from one to the other. We examine the performance of a single robot and of groups of robots selfassembling with an object or another robot. We assess the robustness of the system with respect to different types of rough terrain. Finally, we evaluate the performance of swarms of 16 physical robots. At present, for self-assembly in autonomous, mobile robotics, swarm-bots is the state of the art for what concerns reliability, robustness and speed.