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Thousand-robot swarm self-assembles into complex shapes

split image of starfish and robot swarm

A swarm of more than a thousand tiny robots assembled itself into the shape of a starfish and other complex patterns.

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With a set of computerized instructions and flashes of infrared light, up to 1,024 tiny robots organized themselves into the shape of a starfish, the letter K and other complex designs, researchers report August 15 in Science. The robots' collective behavior mimics the way 100,000 ants quickly build bridges or rafts or thousands of birds move together in a flock. Successfully programming the thousand-bot swarm to coordinate its behavior is a step forward in collective artificial intelligence.

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