I’m a big fan of robotics although I do recognize that like all technology, innovations in this area should be treated with respect for the possible implications. There’s a lot we can learn about the universe and our own humanity as robotic technology becomes increasingly advanced. For example, the science behind group dynamics such as those found in a starling murmuration can be simulated and better understood with the help of the Kilobot from Harvard University. The quarter-sized robots run about $14 and can be programmed as a group via infrared controller and charged by moving between two conductive surfaces.
From the website:
“Kilobot is a low-cost, easy-to-use robotic system for advancing development of “swarms” of robots that can be programmed to perform useful functions by coordinating interactions among many individuals. These swarms are inspired by social insects, such as ant colonies, that can efficiently search for and find food sources in large complex environments, collectively transport large objects, and coordinate the building of nests and bridges in such environments.
Following this inspiration from nature, robot swarms might one day tunnel through rubble to find survivors, monitor the environment and remove contaminants, assist dwindling bee populations in pollinating crops, and self-assemble to form support structures in collapsed buildings. The Kilobot is designed to provide scientists with a physical testbed for advancing the understanding of collective behavior and realizing its potential to deliver solutions for a wide range of challenges.”
As was stated above, the consequences of every advancement (especially the proverbial breakthrough) should be weighed carefully. Fascinating little robots simulating the foraging action found in ant colonies are cute, swarming WASP or X-47B drones not so much.
- Geek-out Sunday part XI: Anthropocene mapping (marshallstanton.com)
- Geek-out Sunday part X: Imperial March (marshallstanton.com)
- Geek-out Sunday part IX: Mars 500 (marshallstanton.com)
- Geek-out Sunday part VIII: Minecraft (marshallstanton.com)
- Geek-out Sunday part VII: quantum levitation (marshallstanton.com)