14 Mar '13, 2pm

Even Brainless Robots Can Show Swarm Behavior

Even Brainless Robots Can Show Swarm Behavior

Bristlebots are robots without sensors or brains that do things that robots without sensors or brains do. As it turns out, this is a lot more than you might expect, since researchers at Harvard have shown that if you stick enough of them in a small space, they self-organize into swarms. A Bristlebot consists of nothing more than a toothbrush head (a custom 3D-printed one, in this case) hooked up to a pager vibrating motor and battery. You can build one yourself in five minutes for a couple bucks , making this one of the simplest and cheapest robots in existence. It's a little bit surprising, then, that these little guys are good for some serious research. Roboticists at Harvard decided to stuff a whole bunch of Bristlebots into a small area to see what happened, and even with no brains or sensors, some intelligent-seeming behavior spontaneously manifested itself: We show t...

Full article: http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/artificial-in...

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