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Robot Swarm Inspired by Cells Can Keep Moving Even if Its Parts Fail


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A robot swarm.

Columbia University researchers have created a robot swarm that can join together, squeeze through gaps, and keep moving even if many of its parts fail.

Credit: Columbia University

Researchers at Columbia University created a swarm of 25 disc-shaped robots inspired by living cells, that can join together, squeeze through gaps, and keep moving even if many of its parts fail.

Each robot in the swarm is equipped with cogs that cause the robot's outer shell to expand and contract. In addition, each robot has magnets around the perimeter that let it stick to neighboring bots.

The robots cannot move as individuals, but once they are stuck together, the swarm can slither across a surface by making individual bots expand and contract at different times.

The researchers found that the swarm was still able to move around even when 20% of individual bots were not working.

The individual bots were programmed to vary the timing of their expansions and contractions according to the intensity of the light they sensed, enabling the swarm to move towards an object.

From New Scientist
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Abstracts Copyright © 2019 SmithBucklin, Washington, DC, USA


 

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