Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) is working diligently to advance the future of flash mobs.
Well, robotic flash mobs, that is.
SEAS researchers have created a fleet of kilobots, which has grown from 25 to over 1000 since 2011 when they were first revealed.
So what are these things exactly? And what do they mean for the future?
These kilobots, each about 3 centimeters in size, are simple robots that work together to display how individual robots can collaborate as a system to complete complex tasks.
Nanobot developments by SEAS show advances for collective artificial intelligence while also displaying the potential for how this technology can be applied in the future.
Radhika Nagpal, Harvard professor and SEAS team member who hosted the research in her lab, remarked on the exciting possibilities for this technology in the Harvard Gazette. “We are especially inspired by systems where individuals can self-assemble together to solve problems,” she said.
This technology could be expanded from nanobots to larger scale robots–like drones.
Autonomous drones would have the ability to work together to complete large tasks, such as: environmental cleanups, search and rescue missions, and military operations.
The University of Pennsylvania’s General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Lab displayed how nanobot technology in conjunction with UAVs can work together to manipulate subjects or build structures.
By utilizing smaller drones with the ability to navigate in and out of small spaces, autonomous drone swarms could coordinate large-scale search and rescues or even provide aid during natural disasters.
Imagine how quickly a pack of 100 RoboFlys, weighing in at .0037, could locate a person trapped in the rubble of an earthquake. Autonomous drones would have the ability to eliminate the human error and also personal risk involved in many rescue operations.
While this technology continues to develop, the possibility for positive applications continues to excite drone enthusiasts and researchers alike.