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Kilobots are cheap enough to swarm in the thousands

June 20, 2011
Kilobot Swarms

Kilobots exhibit collective behaviors such as follow-the-leader and foraging (credit: Harvard University)

Kilobots are simple little robots about the size of a quarter that have been developed by the Self Organizing Systems Research Group at Harvard University.

The bots can move around on vibrating legs, blink their lights, and communicate with each other. Costing $14 each and buildable in about five minutes, they’re designed to swarm in the thousands.

The bots can be programmed at the same time with an infrared controller. They can be sandwiched between two conductive surfaces to be charged. The researchers say that any interaction with a robot swarm has to be scalable so that an increase in the number of robots in the swarm doesn’t result in an increase in the amount of time it takes to interact with the swarm.

The researchers are planning to expand their Kilobot collective to 1024 robots, and then they’ll teach the swarm to demonstrate behaviors like self-healing and collective transport.


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