Monthly Archives: April 2013

Death to Bobble Head Leaders

WATCH: Robot Swarms of the Future (Because Sometimes It Takes a Village)

A different way to view robotics in the classroom.


When you think about robots, you probably imagine vaguely humanoid machines, say Rosie from The Jetsons, C-3PO from Star Wars or maybe the T-800 from The Terminator. But what about robots the size of tea cups that scoot around on tiny wheels, snapping pictures with miniature cameras and keeping track of where they are in relation to dozens of others?

If you’ve seen Farscape, imagine Moya’s DRDs (diagnostic repair drones) without the eye stalks, plasma welders and lasers. If you haven’t seen Farscape, imagine a bunch of beetle-like droids scooting around, Roomba-style, working in concert to carry out various tasks, a little like super-sized body cells or immune system antibodies.

It’s called “swarm robotics,” and we’ve seen real-world examples before, like these autonomous nano quadrotors devised by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania that can fly in formation — think “Live Action Space Invaders” — and

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