New composite robots take coordination to a new level
M. Dorigo and Nithin Mathews
Meet the first fleet of hive-minded robots.
These robots can latch onto one another and link up their individual “nervous systems” — the network of connections between their computer processors, cameras, wheels and other gadgetry — to create a single-minded machine. The composite robots, reported online September 12 in Nature Communications, pave the way for a new generation of machines that can change their shape on the fly.
In previous robots made up of many smaller machines, each robotic building block maintained control over its own nervous system. It was “a little bit like if we had a bunch of people joining together to do something,” explains study coauthor Marco Dorigo, an engineer at Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium. “They were trying to coordinate by exchanging messages with neighbors without