A Thousand Kilobots Self-Assemble Into Complex Shapes
By Evan Ackerman
Posted 14 Aug 2014 | 17:58 GMT
When Harvard roboticists first introduced their Kilobots in 2011, they'd only made 25 of them. When we next saw the robots in 2013, they'd made 100. Now the researchers have built one thousand of them. That's a whole kilo of Kilobots, and probably the most robots that have ever been in the same place at the same time, ever.
The researchers—Michael Rubenstein, Alejandro Cornejo, and Professor Radhika Nagpal of Harvard's Self-Organizing Systems Research Group—describe their thousand-robot swarm in a paper published today in Science (they actually built 1024 robot, apparently following the computer science definition of "kilo").
Despite their menacing name (KILL-O-BOTS!) and nightmarish visions of self-assembling robot swarms, these little guys are harmless. Each Kilobot [pictured below] is a small, cheap-ish ($14) device that can move around by vibrating their legs and communicate with other robots with infrared transmitters and receivers.
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