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Robotic Army Of Ants: The Swarm Motion - Harvard University

Question asked by Farjand in #Robotics on Nov 26, 2011
Farjand · Nov 26, 2011
Rank C2 - EXPERT
Swarm motion is an interesting concept that many people are trying to control. People do it in many ways. Some try to exercise control over honey bees, some over a group of people on streets while some try to exercise this while sitting in front of your P.C-the best example being Wikileaks. However this time Harvard scientists have expanded these activities to a group of robots which resemble ants or any other insect working in groups. The robots thus developed by robotic engineers are called Kilobots!


Kilobots were developed by a team from Self organizing systems research group led by Radhika Nagpal, the Thomas D. Cabot Associate Professor of Computer Science at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS). A single Kilobot resembling any other electronic bug has an algorithm that can co-ordinate with other of its type without human intervention. The main application of studying swarm motion lay in developing tools to perfect coordination in dangerous times.

The Kilobots look like an exact copy of spiders however 'digital' and following nature of ants. The robots can at present carry out actions like foraging, dispersion, following a leader and so on exhibiting a team culture. Scientists hope to evolve them into something much more magnificent in years to come. Here is a basic introduction of what Kilobot is.

Lesser technology or let's say complicated algorithms were mostly responsible for the simulations being only limited to computers or a very few number of entities. Managing a 'swarm' was distant dream. Nagpal focused her efforts towards simplifying algorithm for controlling the group and here was the result.

The applications of these robots or the research itself are quite handsome. For example you can have a search operation in a devastated area due to earthquakes or similar natural calamities. The swarm robots once developed will also be able to support a collapsed structure until the rescue team/ victims pass under it. The Kilobots can also be employed in coordinated operations where humans cannot go- in mines, great depths of earth and other places.

Check out this video of the swarm action of Kilobots.

The applications are of course interesting and we would like to hear if any one of you has more ideas of applying this swarm robotic concept. Feel free to discuss the technological aspects of your ideas in comments below. Posted in: #Robotics

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