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News Picks : Swarm of robots collaborate to form shapes

By: Physics Today
15 August 2014

BBC: Researchers have built a swarm of more than 1000 small robots that can shuffle around on three spindly legs to form two-dimensional shapes. Although the 3-cm-sized robots are fed the same computer program, they modify their movements based on what their neighbors are doing. Modeled on the swarm behavior of living organisms such as ants and birds, the so-called Kilobots could one day be used to develop self-assembling tools and structures. The tiny robots are not fast, however: Each shape can take 6 to 12 hours. "Actually watching the experiment run is like watching paint dry,” says Michael Rubenstein of Harvard University, coauthor of the group’s study published in Science.


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