In Brief: Witness the Kilobot Swarm

By Norman Chan

Just don't call them killerbots.

Earlier this month, we wrote about how roboticists use swarms of ants as models for programming collective groups of robots, but past experiments in swarming bots (or drones) have only utilized dozens of machines. In a new demonstration of the open-source kilobots project, Harvard roboticist Mike Rubenstein shows off how a system of over a thousand tiny robots could organize themselves to elegantly form two-dimensional shapes. The kilobots--which unfortunately sound like "killerbots"--are to be a test bed for new algorithms that govern swarms of autonomous robots. And rest assured, the only way these robots could hurt you is if you tried to eat one, said Rubenstein in an NPR interview. Watch a video of the kilobots in action below.