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Robotics Technology

A Thousand Kilobots Self-Assemble Into Complex Shapes 56

An anonymous reader writes "Researchers at Harvard's Self-Organizing Systems Research Group—describe their thousand-robot swarm in a paper published today in Science (they actually built 1024 robots). In the past, researchers have only been able to program at most a couple hundred robots to work together. Now, these researchers have programmed the biggest robot swarm yet. Alone, the simple little robot can't do much, but working with 1,000 or more like-minded fellow bots, it becomes part of a swarm that can self-assemble into any two-dimensional shape. These are some of the first steps toward creating huge herds of tiny robots that form larger structures—including bigger robots."
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A Thousand Kilobots Self-Assemble Into Complex Shapes

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  • by chispito ( 1870390 ) on Thursday August 14, 2014 @07:40PM (#47674407)
    I remember, as TFA mentions, these wondrous little $14 robots. Except if you're not Harvard, the distributors are charging about $125 for each one, and hundreds more for the programmer and charger.
  • by sabt-pestnu ( 967671 ) on Thursday August 14, 2014 @08:25PM (#47674691)

    The difference between theory and practice is
    - in theory, there is no difference
    - in practice, there is.

    A simulation of self-assembling robots is theory.
    An actual pile of 1,024 self-assembling robots is practice.

    Less tritely, you have zero information about flaws in your simulation until you try to apply it to/in the real world. Your simulation is excellent at helping you identify logical flaws in your design. But if you fail to account for something (crosswinds [], say), then your simulation simply won't help you find it.

    It's that whole "unknown unknowns" thing, man.

Disks travel in packs.