The 'eerie' swarm of robots that talk to each other
Is this the future of robotic intelligence? And will they play nice?
The video: A crack team of 60 robots, developed by researchers at the Free University of Brussels in Belgium, have been trained to communicate with one another to execute tasks — such as finding a book and grabbing it off a shelf — in an unfamiliar environment with military, if rather sluggish, precision. (Watch the video, below.) The group of robots, collectively dubbed "Swarmanoid," is made up of three specialized robot species: The "eye-bots" are small flying machines that can navigate through hallways and doors to scout for their target. "Foot-bots" roll along the floor to form a communication chain, using flashing LED lights and infrared signals to relay messages. A "hand-bot," with clamp-like hands, can climb up a bookcase to snatch the desired book.
The reaction: "Fascinating," says Earnest "Nex" Cavalli at TheEscapist.com. "Teamwork in humans is inspiring. Teamwork in highly coordinated robots is a bit eerie." The video, which won first prize at the Artificial Intelligence Video Competition in San Francisco last week, "offers a glimpse at how borderline-creepy robotic teamwork can be." The developers hope these robot swarms can eventually be programmed to fight fires, conduct search-and-rescue missions, or explore distant planets. "We've seen robotic swarms before, but none of them are as flamboyant as Swarmanoid, which turns even the most mundane tasks into espionage thrillers," says Cyriaque Lamar on io9.com. Check out the video: