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Researchers Develop Alien-Inspired Robotic 'Worm Blob' Swarms

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entangled worm blobs

Macroscopic aquatic worms braid their long, soft bodies to form large entangled worm blobs.

Credit: Georgia Institute of Technology

Georgia Institute of Technology researchers developed robots that mimic blackworm "worm blobs" and could pave the way for the creation of swarm robots that function as a team.

The researchers describe their work in "Collective Dynamics in Entangled Worm and Robot Blobs," published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The process by which the worms braid themselves together in a "blob" state, which enables them to move together and protect individual worms from threats like drying out, was applied to simple robots. Small robotic blobs were created using six three-dimensionally printed robots with two arms and two light sensors, with a mesh enclosure and pins allowing the "smart active particles" to entangle like worms.

The researchers tested the robot blob's collective behavior and movements. "Each robot is doing its own thing in a decentralized way," says Georgia Tech research associate Yasemin Ozkan-Aydin. "Using just the mechanical interaction and the attraction each robot had for light intensity, we could control the robot blob."

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