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Kilobots are leaving the nest
Date:11/21/2011

The Kilobots are coming.

Computer scientists and engineers at Harvard University have developed and licensed technology that will make it easy to test collective algorithms on hundreds, or even thousands, of tiny robots.

Called Kilobots, the quarter-sized bug-like devices scuttle around on three toothpick-like legs, interacting and coordinating their own behavior as a team. A June 2011 Harvard Technical Report demonstrated a collective of 25 machines implementing swarming behaviors such as foraging, formation control, and synchronization.

Once up and running, the machines are fully autonomous, meaning there is no need for a human to control their actions.

The communicative critters were created by members of the 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) and a Core Faculty Member at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard. Her team also includes Michael Rubenstein, a postdoctoral fellow at SEAS; and Christian Ahler, a fellow of SEAS and the Wyss Institute.

Thanks to a technology licensing deal with the K-Team Corporation, a Swiss manufacturer of high-quality mobile robots, researchers and robotics enthusiasts alike can now take command of their own swarm.

One key to achieving high-value applications for multi-robot systems in the future is the development of sophisticated algorithms that can coordinate the actions of tens to thousands of robots.

"The Kilobot will provide researchers with an important new tool for understanding how to design and build large, distributed, functional systems," says Michael Mitzenmacher, Area Dean for Computer Science at SEAS.

"Plus," he adds, "tiny robots are really cool!"

The name "Kilobot" does not refer to anything nefarious; rather, it describes the researchers' goal of quic
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Contact: Michael Rutter
mrutter@seas.harvard.edu
617-496-3815
Harvard University
Source:Eurekalert  

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