Researchers at Georgia Tech in Atlanta are programming robots to work together. They believe that in the future, robotic swarms could play an important role in assessing threats at high profile events like the Boston Marathon.
For these robots timing is everything. They have been taught to play Beethoven's 'Fur Elise' on a piano projected on the floor. But instead of programming each robot individually, researchers led by Professor Magnus Egerstedt told Reuters, they have directed the robots to accomplish the task as a team. "We really have no way of building one robot that can do everything so we are building in redundancy meaning that we have lots of different robots that together can solve a task the individual robots can not ."
The robots communicate with one another wirelessly with built in sensors. Pre-programmed algorithms in the controlling software serve as the language each robot uses to define and solve problems as a group. In this experiment the robots are mimicking Lions and Gazelles. The lions soon learn that catching their prey is easier if they work together, a concept Egerstedt says has obvious application for humans as well.
He sees potential for swarm robotics in fields like security and defense, where groups of robots could cover large areas as a surveillance team., or in search and rescue missions after disasters where buildings have collapsed.
Sources: Reuters, Gannett News Service