A swarm of 40 mini-robots, programmed to group and work together like mechanic ants, can successfully perform tasks like carrying heavy objects or regrouping after being scattered.

The tiny-bots can recognize each other, can co-operate to move an item, can regroup and organize themselves by priority order. The impressive thing about this project, though, is not what the robots can do; it is that they operate under the least possible amount of information and memory. Hence their small size.

The medical and military potential applications of such a programmable group of robots are numerous, if not scary, especially if we are talking about nanobots – tiny robots in nanoscale sizes.

As Dr Roderich Gross, head of the project, said: “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.

The little robots are currently ‘living’ in Sheffield Centre for Robotics, and they are about to be demonstrated at the Gadget Show Live in Birmingham later this week.

Source: Sheffield Centre for Robotics