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Kilobots — Cheap Swarm Robots Out of Harvard

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the keep-wil-wheaton-away-from-these dept.

Robotics 121

An anonymous reader writes with news of a research project at Harvard into controlling large swarms of small robots. This article describes what they call Kilobots. (Which, for clarity's sake, have nothing to do with killing. Yet.) Quoting: "They're fairly simple little robots about the size of a quarter that can move around on vibrating legs, blink their lights, and communicate with each other. On an individual basis, this isn't particularly impressive, but Kilobots aren't designed to be used on an individual basis. Costing a mere $14 each and buildable in about five minutes, you don't just get yourself one single Kilobot. Or ten. Or a hundred. They're designed to swarm in the thousands."

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121 comments

First post. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36486856)

I am better at Slashdot than you.

Welcome! (2)

DrSlinky (710703) | more than 3 years ago | (#36486864)

I'd like to be the first to welcome out new robot overlords.

If there's anything I can do to make this transition easier on you, you need but ask. Oh, and that neighbor I don't like is part of the resistance.

Re:Welcome! (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#36486876)

I'd like to be the first to welcome out new robot overlords.

If there's anything I can do to make this transition easier on you, you need but ask. Oh, and that neighbor I don't like is part of the resistance.

I'll bring the broom and dustpan.

Re:Welcome! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36487164)

Sorry, your heart just isn't in it. I guess this story needs something about bitcoin. Like each robot is worth how many bitcoins, or how they might mine or steal bitcoins....
Slashdot sucks these days.

Re:Welcome! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36489678)

how about each robot is about the size of a bitcoin?

Re:Welcome! (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#36487832)

Ha, you fool. I'd like to be the first to welcome our new grey goo overlord!

Re:Welcome! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36489178)

That's ok. With enough robots working to apply a voltage in series, Ohm's law will take care of that.

Oblig. XKCD (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36486880)

Obligatory XKCD [xkcd.com]

Re:Oblig. XKCD (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36487308)

Since when has one been obliged to plug someone else's (not even relevant in this case) lame webcomic?

Re:Oblig. XKCD (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36487512)

That's what I wonder every time someone posts a link to that shitty stickman webcomic.

Re:Oblig. XKCD (1)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 3 years ago | (#36487774)

WTF is up with the XKCD hate from some people? It's weird.
Is there a reason for this, or are people just assholes?

Re:Oblig. XKCD (1)

drolli (522659) | more than 3 years ago | (#36489774)

Also see: Mantrid Drones (The Lexx).

Kilobot (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36486882)

It's short for Kill-O-Bot.

Re:Kilobot (2)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | more than 3 years ago | (#36486910)

Indeed, they could have chosen a less ominous name.

Like fluffyboppers.

Re:Kilobot (1)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 3 years ago | (#36487008)

I'm not too worried, as my gigantic robotic stamping boot is in alpha testing

Ok.. (2)

errandum (2014454) | more than 3 years ago | (#36486884)

Haven't braitenberg vehicles kind of simulated this kind of behavior for a while now?

Re:Ok.. (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#36490424)

Dunno....but that looks like a really fun project to work on. Anybody know where you can buy those for $14?

Why? (2)

Cedarbridge (1964514) | more than 3 years ago | (#36486888)

Its a cool idea and all but designed for the thousands? What on Earth would I want a thousand little vibrating bots that jostle around in circles and blink at eachother for?

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36486922)

So you can laugh maniacally at your helpless minions as the carpet installers arrive?

Re:Why? (1)

Matheus (586080) | more than 3 years ago | (#36486986)

Call me old fashioned, but I refuse to call these a swarm until they can fly. :)

Re:Why? (4, Insightful)

SomePgmr (2021234) | more than 3 years ago | (#36487048)

Good question. Also, you'd have to find a well-cleaned aircraft hangar or something with enough perfectly flat, obstacle-free space for them to do anything. I don't think the idea is really about making these particular ones practical... but more about programming a whole swarm all at once and having them ready to go off and do whatever they're supposed to on their own. And managing that in a way that's cheap and effective. The article says they're looking to get up to a thousand of them and have them work out "self healing" and "collective trasport". These taks have been done individually, but baby steps towards a more impressive whole, I guess.

Re:Why? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36487184)

My wife could think of a few good reasons..

Re:Why? (1)

InsectOverlord (1758006) | more than 3 years ago | (#36487246)

To keep cockroaches off.

And if you step on one of them by accident, you might kill it but the result won't be nearly as gross.

Re:Why? (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 3 years ago | (#36487394)

What on Earth would I want a thousand little vibrating bots that jostle around in circles and blink at eachother for?

The warm glow from spending $14,000 to help a future Harvard startup monetize its slashverts? And a free set of steak knives!

Re:Why? (1)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 3 years ago | (#36487764)

Why not?

Prey (1)

bp2179 (765697) | more than 3 years ago | (#36486900)

Michael Crichton wrote a book about how we thought we could control thousand of nanobots using swarm theory. I wonder if they are using algorithms derived from bees. As long as we don't develop AI anytime soon, I think we are safe.

Re:Prey (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 3 years ago | (#36487434)

I wonder if they are using algorithms derived from bees.

Gosh I hope not! There's a documentary with Michael Caine [imdb.com] that shows this would be a bad idea.

Re:Prey (2)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 3 years ago | (#36487752)

Michael Crichton wrote a book about how we thought we could control thousand of nanobots using swarm theory.

Also, L. Ron Hubbard wrote a book about how we are all haunted by thousands of evil alien ghosts. Fortunately, both books are works of fiction, and therefore have little relation to reality.

Re:Prey (2)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 3 years ago | (#36490020)

Please Cease and Desist from violating the Centre for Religious Technology's Intellectual Property.

Re:Prey (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#36487892)

Michael Crichton wrote a book about how we thought we could control thousand of nanobots using swarm theory.

Michael Crichton was a crypto-fascist crank who was wrong about almost everything.

Sort of like an even less talented Ayn Rand who read Popular Science.

Re:Prey (2)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 3 years ago | (#36490030)

Still pissed about this [harvard.edu] , eh?

Re:Prey (2)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 3 years ago | (#36488988)

Michael Crichton wrote a book

Let me guess, it's about "science gone mad", right?

We will lose. (1)

lw54 (73409) | more than 3 years ago | (#36486920)

You could kill a robot. Maybe even 10. But, in the thousands, even if they are tiny and weak, you will lose.

Re:We will lose. (1)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 3 years ago | (#36486952)

I'm pretty sure a decent pair of boots is all you'd need to defeat a swarm of these things.

Re:We will lose. (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 3 years ago | (#36487006)

...except for the few thousand that manage to climb up the side of your boots and then burrow inside your legs...

Re:We will lose. (1)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 3 years ago | (#36487446)

They can't climb or burrow. They have all the mobility of my phone in vibrate mode.

Re:We will lose. (2)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 3 years ago | (#36487724)

They can't climb or burrow. They have all the mobility of my phone in vibrate mode.

Well sure... These are just the research prototypes. v2.0 will add spring-loaded legs, and teeth.

Re:We will lose. (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#36487824)

Imagine being buried in thousands of phones, which all vibrate in sync.

Re:We will lose. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36488182)

I think I know quite a few women who would pay good money for that.

Re:We will lose. (1)

delirium28 (641609) | more than 3 years ago | (#36489180)

Yeah, so did the Daleks [wikipedia.org] , but that didn't stop them!

Re:We will lose. (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#36486992)

No. The only reason it's a remotely good science fiction toy is because the robots self-replicate or assimilate - usually by magictech. Built what's essentially a machine gun turret on wheels and it'd be much more effective than a million toy soldiers.

Re:We will lose. (1)

SomePgmr (2021234) | more than 3 years ago | (#36487104)

Well the article says one of the next steps is "self healing", whatever that means. I'd guess that just means bringing in new bots to replace dead ones. But hey, it's something. :)

Re:We will lose. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36487010)

My EMP device says otherwise

Nibbled to death by ducks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36487016)

Even ducks can kill you, given enough ducks

D'awww (2)

Windwraith (932426) | more than 3 years ago | (#36486948)

They are so cute!
I don't even know why but I was "awww"ing when all the robots started to blink their lights in unison.

Re:D'awww (1)

Shemmie (909181) | more than 3 years ago | (#36487068)

Totally opposite reaction to me. I got the creeps when I saw the little imps talking to each other to synchronize their flashing lights.

It was like watching the Borg boot up!

Re:D'awww (2)

Windwraith (932426) | more than 3 years ago | (#36487178)

Really? That was one of my favorite parts...I can imagine them making cute beeps while flocking around.
Then again I happen to find most "real" robots cute. with those huge shiny camera eyes and unreliable movement. It's like watching metal puppies tripping while taking their first steps.
I'd be willing to get myself a dozen and have it move around my desk all day. What would they do if they go berserk anyway? Vibrate all over me until I die of old age?

Vancouver? (1, Offtopic)

drwho (4190) | more than 3 years ago | (#36486962)

A swarm of creatures with low intelligence? You mean, that Harvard manufactured the Canuks rioters/fans?

Re:Vancouver? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36487170)

No, it's normal Harvard human product.

Re:Vancouver? (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 3 years ago | (#36488882)

At least those Canuks fans get something done (even though it's destruction/economic stimulus). I believe they're more like a group of IT managers at a Microsoft convention - they can all start communicating with the latest buzzwords but in the end it doesn't mean anything to anyone observing and trying to get an intelligent answer.

Batteries (2, Funny)

BradleyUffner (103496) | more than 3 years ago | (#36486988)

The battery life is only 3 hours, and is non rechargeable.. I'd REALLY hate being the intern at a company using a swarm of 1000s of these guys after the first experiment.

Re:Batteries (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36487056)

FTA:

To power the entire robot, each Kilobot has a 3.4 V 160 mAh lithium-ion battery. This battery can power the robot for 3-10 hours depending on the robot’s activity level.

As far as I know these are rechargable and they even designed a system to reload them in bulk.

Re:Batteries (1)

AmberBlackCat (829689) | more than 3 years ago | (#36487210)

You fix that problem with another robot [wikipedia.org] ...

Re:Batteries (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36487528)

In the first video, the guy specifically says they are rechargeable.

Re:Batteries (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#36487826)

See, that's why they'll have to start using humans for power eventually. You've been warned.

Re:Batteries (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36489708)

Unfortunately for your joke... the battery *is* rechargeable. Further, you only have to put the thing on a special "charger sandwitch" (ground on top, 6v bottom) and they'll recharge.

Not what I'd like to see come out of Harvard... (1)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 3 years ago | (#36487012)

I'm afraid I misread the headline as something much, much cooler.

Did anyone else read that Harvard had invented a "cheap swarm of killbots?"

Because that would be awesome.

Re:Not what I'd like to see come out of Harvard... (1)

Mogusha (1091607) | more than 3 years ago | (#36487278)

I'm surprised noone has said it yet, but do they have a predefined kill limit? So, if they get out of hand we can send wave after wave of men at them? [theinfosphere.org]

Re:Not what I'd like to see come out of Harvard... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36487562)

Are Aspies good for anything but pop culture references and solving obscure mathematical problems?

Re:Not what I'd like to see come out of Harvard... (1)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 3 years ago | (#36489478)

Yep. Once I realized what it really said I was pretty bummed.

Ah, but we can always build more killbots!

Yes, Soulskill, your readers are retarded (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36487036)

(Which, for clarity's sake, have nothing to do with killing. Yet.)

Thank fucking god we have editors. I might have never realized that "kilo" could refer to anything but killing.

No, the /. readers are, as I am, buck-toothed sloping-foreheaded morons who think that "kilobot" means robots that kill things. We've obviously never used any computers outside of an Xbox, let alone the metric fucking system, and that is why we're all reading a goddamned tech news site.

When will this lead to something useful? (2)

c0d3g33k (102699) | more than 3 years ago | (#36487062)

I understand that small steps (no pun intended) need to be taken to advance the state of the art, but this remains an academic novelty until these little guys can do something useful. Doesn't have to be terribly complicated. There are plenty of simple yet highly repetitious and tedious tasks that would be perfect for a cooperating swarm of little worker bots working in parallel. Like carrying the leaves off of the lawn and depositing them in the woods (or a recycling bag) in the fall or similar. Then I would be impressed (and would be the first in line to buy the kit).

Re:When will this lead to something useful? (3, Informative)

1 a bee (817783) | more than 3 years ago | (#36487216)

For you and I further down the food chain, it'll probably be a while. For researchers, though, it's arguably already useful. FTA:

Generally people who want to experiment with large swarms have had to be content with computer simulations, which is fine, but at some point you have to try things out in the real world (or as close as you can get in a lab), and Kilobots can make that happen. .. at $14 each, a thousand robots is actually an achievable number with a modest grant, which is something that probably has not been possible before.

Re:When will this lead to something useful? (2)

c0d3g33k (102699) | more than 3 years ago | (#36487326)

Agreed. I made a weak attempt to acknowledge this in my opening sentence, but in my haste to get to my main point, I was overly dismissive without meaning to be. Moving beyond simulations and into the real world is definitely a necessary and laudable achievement.

Re:When will this lead to something useful? (1)

RandCraw (1047302) | more than 3 years ago | (#36489066)

Exactly. Clean out my gutters. Paint my house. Weed my garden. Stop just writing papers.

Replicators??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36487074)

Why am I thinking about the replicators from SG-SG1??? ;^)

The first robot war begins in 5...4...3... (2)

zill (1690130) | more than 3 years ago | (#36487080)

How long until they divide into two camps and fight to the death over whether kilo = 1000 or 1024?

Re:The first robot war begins in 5...4...3... (1)

jabberw0k (62554) | more than 3 years ago | (#36487142)

The Kilobots and the Kibibots? (Cue Prokofiev's "Montagues and Capulets")

Re:The first robot war begins in 5...4...3... (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#36489194)

Maybe so... The string Kibi is really close to Kibo. Perhaps the folks on alt.religion.kibology could have some insight into what the strategy of Kibo's kibibots would be :-)

The size of a quarter (1)

safetyinnumbers (1770570) | more than 3 years ago | (#36487084)

That's about the size of 15 pence, for readers in the UK.

Re:The size of a quarter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36487162)

That's about the size of 15 pence, for readers in the UK.

If a 15 pence coin actually existed :-/

Re:The size of a quarter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36487214)

woosh?

Killbots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36487144)

Am I the only one who read that as killbots, and then got really excited?

Re:Killbots (1)

lostfayth (1184371) | more than 3 years ago | (#36487224)

The editors were rather prescient then.

Re:Killbots (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 3 years ago | (#36487268)

Why yes, yes you were the only one.

But the're incapable of folding my fitted sheets.. (1)

RNLockwood (224353) | more than 3 years ago | (#36487174)

and I think they won't do so well on my carpets. But how about swarm wars? THAT'S cool!

What we have is a new measure of automation (5, Insightful)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#36487186)

1024 kilobots = 1 Megabot

1024 Megabots = 1 Gigabot (aka 1 Decepticon)

1024 Gigabots = 1 Terabot

1024 Terabots = 1 Petabot (A sufficient number of bots to enslave humanity)

1024 Petabots = 1 Exabot (A sufficient number of bots to enslave the the planets in our solar system)

1024 Exabots = 1 Zettabot (A sufficient number of bots to enslave our galaxy)

1024 Zettabots = 1 Yottabot (A sufficient number of bots to enslave 25% of the known universe)

1024 Yottabots = A sufficient number of bots bots to replace all interesting objects in the known (and unknown) parts of the universe with Kilobot swarms.

Re:What we have is a new measure of automatons (1)

1 a bee (817783) | more than 3 years ago | (#36487324)

Pew! And I was worried about kilobots turning on us. It's them yottabots we should be worried about. Oh, wait a minute.. I think they've so throughly won we call their collective reality.

Re:What we have is a new measure of automation (1)

tebee (1280900) | more than 3 years ago | (#36487576)

So if each kilobot takes 1 day to make a duplicate of itself - we have 90 days until we get to the "A sufficient number of bots bots to replace all interesting objects in the known (and unknown) parts of the universe with Kilobot swarms" stage?

OMG RepRap is the new skynet (1)

cultiv8 (1660093) | more than 3 years ago | (#36487734)

Only now you have to buy parts off ebay

Re:What we have is a new measure of automation (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#36488110)

we have 90 days until we get to the "A sufficient number of bots bots to replace all interesting objects in the known (and unknown) parts of the universe with Kilobot swarms" stage?

Unless they are extremely versatile in their reproduction and operation, they run out of essential easily-obtainable resources on earth to harvest for rapid reproduction long before 90 days.

And have to start either mining resources themselves or utilizing enslaved species to do work to extract resources for Kilobot reproduction :)

Re:What we have is a new measure of automation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36487744)

1024 kilobots = 1 Megabot

1024 Megabots = 1 Gigabot (aka 1 Decepticon)

1024 Gigabots = 1 Terabot

1024 Terabots = 1 Petabot (A sufficient number of bots to enslave humanity)

1024 Petabots = 1 Exabot (A sufficient number of bots to enslave the the planets in our solar system)

1024 Exabots = 1 Zettabot (A sufficient number of bots to enslave our galaxy)

1024 Zettabots = 1 Yottabot (A sufficient number of bots to enslave 25% of the known universe)

1024 Yottabots = A sufficient number of bots bots to replace all interesting objects in the known (and unknown) parts of the universe with Kilobot swarms.

Or...

1024 Yottabots = 1 Hellabot

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SI_prefix#Related_proposals

Re:What we have is a new measure of automation (1)

charlieo88 (658362) | more than 3 years ago | (#36489350)

When you open the box and count out only 1,000 ONLY THEN do see the little asterisk where the manufacture says 1,000 kilobots to the megabot because for marketing purposes they use SI prefixes.

Legion - Geth (1)

AleXelA (1383743) | more than 3 years ago | (#36490188)

http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Legion [wikia.com]

Legion is a unique geth mobile platform, designed to operate outside the Perseus Veil and interact with organics directly. To that purpose, it houses 1,183 geth programs, as opposed to the one hundred in other platforms, enabling it to operate independently and speak....
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMPeG3pQlPw&NR=1 [youtube.com] ...If questioned about specifically using Shepard's N7 armour to repair itself, Legion becomes evasive, first rationalizing with "there was a hole" and then states "no data available" after being pressed, suggesting that it was the result of an irrational action, which goes against the concept that every action the geth take is the result of calculation, unaffected by emotion.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wF7KYQ1_jKo [youtube.com]

Waking up the Geth: (there is a new faction inside the Geth (that break apart from the earlier less evolutioned ones), that builds their own future, no one will be armed ... unless they involve themselves...)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMzBSRityaU&feature=related [youtube.com]

Geth enters the Quarian ship: (Geth meet their creators, creators meet their killers, the Geth keep the homeworld and the Quarians had to scape and live exiled)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDemlIaPv18&feature=related [youtube.com]

Of course the Geth views's of the whole story is just the opposite, they were just defending themselves .... which may not be false.

Did you even know you could get in love with them?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IdIhFXcRl8 [youtube.com]

I love Legion's mind machine calculations all the time:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJI66t-B83g&feature=related [youtube.com]

Re:What we have is a new measure of automation (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 3 years ago | (#36490336)

Yes, except Kilo means 1000. Not 1024. RAM manufacturers use an approximation, but the official IEC term is . [wikipedia.org]

My Kilobot (1)

stinerman (812158) | more than 3 years ago | (#36487226)

My Kilobot has Lotus Notes and a machine gun. It is the finest available.

"nothing to do with killing" (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 3 years ago | (#36487230)

So they're working on robot swarms that will totally not try to wipe out humanity?

Even as a pun, that's a Suspiciously Specific Denial.

neato... (1)

Thraxy (1782662) | more than 3 years ago | (#36487408)

I was very impressed by that synchronized blinking action there. That will come in handy... Endless possibilities there, my friend... endless

Re:neato... (1)

hazem (472289) | more than 3 years ago | (#36489232)

It's very similar to a "Firefly" simulation in Netlogo (http://ccl.northwestern.edu/netlogo/ [northwestern.edu] ). It's an agent-based simulation language/system that allows you to explore similar behaviors as the ones seen here, but virtually.

Simulation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36487458)

I really don't get what is the point with using bots like that.
With such limited functionality, they should be really easy to simulate, wouldn't they?
This must be some kind proof of concept and even to prove a certain controlling concept they shouldn't have to use robots.
No, this must be for fun or to attract attention.

Granted, the last part of the movie was really cool.

I don't believe it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36487566)

Nothing to do with killing? Pshaw.

But it's okay; kilobots have a pre-set kill limit. I shall merely send wave after wave of my men at them until they reach that limit, and shut down.

Calling CleverNickname... (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 3 years ago | (#36487738)

...please pick up the shaped like a galaxy class starship courtesy telephone please...

Re:Calling CleverNickname... (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#36488774)

Will hasn't posted here since 2009 but you could try reddit...

Killbots (1)

hoborg1 (1977356) | more than 3 years ago | (#36488710)

I misread and was hoping for cheap swarms of killbots...

Been seeing them for years (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#36488804)

Kilobots â" Cheap Swarm Robots Out of Harvard

We call them politicians. They come straight of of Harvard with hair gel and sense of entitlement already applied.

Ian McDonald detailed what these could become (1)

Basilius (184226) | more than 3 years ago | (#36488948)

He called them "BitBots" and they feature prominently in his recent book "The Dervish House."

I want some.

yes, cool.. but.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36489736)

Why use real robots? Swarming/flocking behaviours can be simulated beautifully in software at $0 extra per unit..

Meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36490014)

more like Yawnbots

Perfect Job for Kilobots - Work on Homepage of SSR (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36490204)

I propose Kilobots get to work on the home page of their mothership Self-Organizing Systems Research Group [harvard.edu] that looks straight from the nineties with fuzzy background images and large images for headlines included. I know, I know, substance over style but a little more style wouldn't hurt for a presumable word-class research outfit.

This is not swarm behavior at all (1)

popo (107611) | more than 3 years ago | (#36490212)

Swarm behavior requires a mutual awareness between devices. This is simply a remote control which affects a large number of units. The problem with this approach is that it only works initially, but random differences in movement become magnified over time. Since each bot movement includes a random margin of error (think: drunkard's walk) the "swarm" will dissipate over time and show less cohesion. In true swarm behavior, each individual actor (bot, in this case) is aware of the greater swarm.

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