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University Develops, Licenses Autonomous Robotics Technology

Kilobots (Michael Rubenstein, Harvard University)

Kilobots (Michael Rubenstein, Harvard University)

Engineers and computer scientists at Harvard University have developed small, inexpensive robots with algorithms that enable the devices to work on their own or together in groups. The technology for Kilobots, as they are called, has been licensed to a Swiss company for manufacture and marketing.

The tiny robots, about the size of a quarter (33 mm) in diameter, were developed by a team at Harvard’s Self-Organizing Systems Research Group led by computer science professor Radhika Nagpal. The devices move on three short (2 cm) stilt-like legs, and have an individual controller to guide its movements, as well as infrared communications with a base station and other Kilobots.

The ability for any number of kilobots — in the thousands, according to the developers — to work together, provide the real value of the devices. Nagpal’s research group has demonstrated the ability of Kilobots to engage in swarming behaviors such as foraging, formation control, and synchronization.

The company K-Team Corporation in Yverdon-les-Bains, Switzerland has licensed the Kilobot technology and includes the device in its line of small robots for research, education, and entertainment markets. The Kilobot could be developed to perform tasks that are difficult for humans to carry out, such as tunneling through rubble to find survivors, help in pollinating crops, removing contaminants, or performing construction in dangerous or extreme environments.

The following video gives an introduction to the Kilobot.


Read more: Prototype Spherical Robot Developed to Monitor Reactor Pipes

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