Advertisement
ProteinSimple
ProteinSimple

Collective Robot Behavior

A swarm of more than 1,000 small, puck-shaped robots can assemble into diverse patterns.

By | August 18, 2014

A close-up of the Kilobot swarmMICHAEL RUBENSTEIN, HARVARD UNIVERSITYA simple set of rules, basic infrared communication, and four “seed robots” that coordinate the group’s behavior is all that’s needed for a flock of 1,024 man-made machines to self-assemble into preprogrammed shapes, such as a star or the letter K. The so-called Kilobots—each roughly the size of a stack of five quarters, propped up on three thin legs—detect the presence of other bots within 10 centimeters of themselves by measuring the strength of their neighbors’ infrared signal. Within 12 hours of introducing the four seed robots to the swarm, the Kilobots have taken on the programmed configuration. The work was published last week (August 14) in Science.

“That is a beautiful accomplishment,” Hod Lipson, a roboticist at Cornell University who was not involved with the work, told Science. “Really getting a thousand robots to perform in sort of perfect synchrony.”

In addition to leading to insights in collective animal behavior, the study’s authors, including Harvard computer scientist Michael Rubenstein, hope that such programmable devices could lead to shape-shifting materials that can take the form of different tools, for example. These future robots would act “like a three-dimensional printer, but instead of printing with plastic filament, you'd be printing with robots that can move themselves,” Rubenstein told Nature.

Advertisement
ASM
ASM

Add a Comment

Avatar of: You

You

Processing...
Processing...

Sign In with your LabX Media Group Passport to leave a comment

Not a member? Register Now!

LabX Media Group Passport Logo
Advertisement
BD Biosciences
BD Biosciences

Popular Now

  1. The Mycobiome
    Features The Mycobiome

    The largely overlooked resident fungal community plays a critical role in human health and disease.

  2. Antibody Alternatives
    Features Antibody Alternatives

    Nucleic acid aptamers and protein scaffolds could change the way researchers study biological processes and treat disease.

  3. Holding Their Ground
    Features Holding Their Ground

    To protect the global food supply, scientists want to understand—and enhance—plants’ natural resistance to pathogens.

  4. Circadian Clock and Aging
    Daily News Circadian Clock and Aging

    Whether a critical circadian clock gene is deleted before or after birth impacts the observed aging-related effects in mice.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Life Technologies