This paper studies local algorithms for autonomous robot systems, namely, algorithms that use only information of the positions of a bounded number of their nearest neighbors. The paper focuses on the spreading problem. It defines measures for the quality of spreading, presents a local algorithm for the one-dimensional spreading problem, prove its convergence to the equally spaced configuration and discusses its convergence rate in the synchronous and semi-synchronous settings. It then presents a local algorithm achieving the exact equally spaced configuration in finite time in the synchronous setting, and proves it is time optimal for local algorithms. Finally, the paper also proposes a possible algorithm for the two-dimensional case and presents partial simulation results of its effectiveness.