The field of robotics gets another awesome video today courtesy of Harvard University researchers. Researchers at Harvard created a swarm of 1,000 tiny robots that work together in order to form shapes. Each tiny robot is given a picture of the required shape and then they get busy. Up to 12 hours later, the shape is formed. Check out the video below.
Researchers took inspiration from nature. Such as ants building a bridge, or a massive school of fish. “Creating these abilities in artificial systems remains a significant challenge,” reads the text in the above video.
Each of the tiny robots isn’t much bigger than a penny. By themselves, they are not much. But together, the 1,024 robot swarm can form shapes such as stars or a wrench. That might not seem much, but the concept of getting large amounts of robots working together without human interference is a major step forward.
Each robot comes equipped with reflected infrared light sensors for communication. Movement is based on vibration motors. An interesting choice. One that keeps costs and moving parts low.
We know each robot has the same program to create a shape. But, how do they know where to start? A scientist places four ‘seed’ robots to get the swarm going.
Have dreams of building a Transformer with a massive swarm of mini-robots? All the code Harvard researchers use is open-source, and the company behind the robots is selling them for around $100 apiece. Bust out the checkbook if you want your own little private army.
15 years ago we couldn’t imagine where tech could take us. Imagine 15 years from today. It’s going to be an interesting world we live in that’s for sure.
The researchers published their study in the August 15 issue of the journal, Science.
Image credit: M Rubenstein, Harvard University