Swarming robots could be the servants of the future (w/ video)

March 28, 2013, University of Sheffield

Swarms of robots acting together to carry out jobs could provide new opportunities for humans to harness the power of machines.

Researchers in the Sheffield Centre for Robotics, jointly established by the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University, have been working to program a group of 40 robots, and say the ability to control swarms could prove hugely beneficial in a range of contexts, from military to medical.

The researchers have demonstrated that the swarm can carry out simple fetching and carrying tasks, by grouping around an object and working together to push it across a surface.

The robots can also group themselves together into a single cluster after being scattered across a room, and organize themselves by order of priority.

Dr Roderich Gross, head of the Natural Robotics Lab, in the Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering at the University of Sheffield, says swarming robots could have important roles to play in the future of micromedicine, as 'nanobots' are developed for non- of humans. On a larger scale, they could play a part in military, or search and , acting together in areas where it would be too dangerous or impractical for humans to go. In industry too, robot could be put to use, improving and .

The programming that the University of Sheffield team has developed to control the robots is deceptively simple. For example, if the robots are being asked to group together, each robot only needs to be able to work out if there is another robot in front of it. If there is, it turns on the spot; if there isn't, it moves in a wider circle until it finds one.

Dr Gross said: "We are developing to control robots in a variety of ways. The key is to work out what is the minimum amount of information needed by the robot to accomplish its task. That's important because it means the robot may not need any memory, and possibly not even a processing unit, so this technology could work for nanoscale robots, for example in medical applications."

This research is funded by a Marie Curie European Reintegration Grant within the 7th European Community Framework Programme. Additional support has been provided by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

The robots were showcased on Channel 5's The Gadget Show this week and will be demonstrated at this year's Gadget Show Live, to be held at the NEC in Birmingham from 3-7 April 2013.

Explore further: Kilobots bring us one step closer to a robot swarm

More information: For more information go to: http://www.gadgetshowlive.net/

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1 / 5 (5) Mar 28, 2013
They have done the following without using Robots;

It will be Interesting to see them play a popular Song hitting keys of a Musical organ...They have to be fast enough...and at the same time should not get in the way of a fellow-robot; Nice to see them carry a specific letter of alphabet and also symbols if needed on their backs.
1 / 5 (5) Mar 28, 2013
May be they can use multiple robots with same letters if needed so as to give time/rest to the other. In such as a case such groups should carry their own colors. There are awful lot of colors to choose from, of course.
1 / 5 (6) Mar 28, 2013
I's be more impressed if he programmed them to march together. That's really all you can do with them. They're just robots.
1 / 5 (4) Mar 28, 2013
a crude version of the Crichton book "Prey"
1 / 5 (4) Mar 30, 2013
So many Robots all the time. All these are directly useful to the common man only in the distant future.

What is needed: FIGHTING MOSQUITOES i.e as follows -

Every one now a days is facing the Monitor Screen much of the time.
Mosquitoes are biting the feet & legs relentlessly.

So, Micro Robots should be around there....looking for a Mosquito...Snap it & Send the image to the Monitor Screen exactly when it is nearest to the body...Varities of Pictures at various angles, sizes should momentarily appear on the screen & aid the humans!
Chemicals are useful but NOT good for body. Others are Expensive, single-use items...which are not practical for everyone.

Keeping the house doors closed, screened windows..yes, Help....but only minimize the problem. Drastic measures to contain completely will be a head-ache. Scrolling Ants can be removed...but Flying insects....Forget it!

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