Robot Flash Mob Mimics Swarms and Cells in Nature

Robot Swarm 1

The world’s first self-assembling robot flash mob took place at Harvard University, with 1,024 tiny robots coming together into a starfish shape in a process mimicking the natural behavior of swarms. bed Kilobots, the robots are just a few centimeters wide and have three pin-like legs enabling them to move across a surface.

The researchers working on the project wanted to demonstrate “how complexity can arise from very simple behaviors performed en masse.” Representing a significant achievement in the development of collective artificial intelligence, the project shows how small individual units can do big things when they join together, much like a colony of ants or a school of cuttlefish.

Robot Swarm 2

Robot Swarm 3

“Biological collectives involve enormous numbers of cooperating entities – whether you think of cells or insects or animals – that together accomplish a single task that is a magnitude beyond the scale of any individual,” says lead study author Michael Rubenstein, a researchas sociate at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and the Wyss Institute.

Robot Swarm 4

The self-organizing swarm is directed by an algorithm that puts together a few very primitive behaviors like following the edge of a group, tracking a distance from the origin, and maintaining a sense of relative location. To learn more about exactly how it works, check out Science Daily or watch the video above.