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Question Your World: What's the Latest in the World of Robots?

As technology continues to exponentially grow, we continue to see more and more amazing advances in robotics. So, what's the latest in the world of robotics? Listen to this Question Your World radio report produced by the Science Museum of Virginia to learn more.

Orchestras, athletic teams, TV casts, or even the human body are all comprised of smaller parts that play vital roles in the overall function of the larger entity. An example that can commonly be found in nature would be ants to an ant colony. An ant colony is one giant entity comprised of thousands upon thousands of ants. Well, that is the exact inspiration behind Harvard scientists’ latest design in robotic technology.

This new design, the kilobot, only an inch wide, could revolutionize the future of this industry. Thousands of kilobots can be brought together to form varying shapes or serve different functions. This army of small robots is led by algorithms that dictate each kilobot’s position, function, and role in the overall design. Once the codes start rolling the robots function on their own with no human intervention. Examples have been recorded and released to the public.

In terms of practical application this really is quite a remarkable innovation. These small robots can be tasked to crawl into rubble and help identify victims for disaster relief assistance. Environmental clean ups could be made easier if these smaller robots were able to be utilized in remote clean ups or those dealing with harmful materials. As if those were not enough, in theory, a fleet of these can be shipped to another planet to begin habitat construction long before humans set foot on the exotic surface. Far out.

Another remarkable aspect to this new creation is the price tag, only $20 per Kilobot, not bad! Keep in mind a very large number is needed right now to create 3-D shapes, larger more complicated designs would necessitate even more. Regardless, this is a very intriguing new way to approach robots. This part ant colony part Voltron creation is in its initial phases, but an excited team of workers should yield some new upgrades and adjustments as work continues.

Article by: Prabir Mehta, Science Museum of Virginia

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