FGLP Lecturer Publishes Study in Science Journal

Justin Werfel of Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering often lectures to FGLP participants. His lecture, based on the findings in the study he recently coauthored in the journal Science, summarizes what swarm robotics are and how they can be used in the future.

Inspired by insects like termites and ants, swarm robotics is developed from a simple idea: instead of building one smart, complex robot, build a lot of basic ones. By programming these robots to sense their environment and follow a simple set of rules they can complete their programmed task. They don’t follow a present plan, instead they react to the environment around them until they reach their final goal. "Every robot is doing its own thing and doesn't know anything about the rest. If they break or they’re lost, the rest of them can keep on working without changing anything about what they’re doing,” says Justin in a Boston.com article. “There’s no need for a central brain to stop and replan what the smaller workforce should do. If you want to add more robots, nothing has to be reprogrammed.”

So far these robots have only built a 9-piece foam structure in the laboratory but Justin and his colleagues at the Wyss Institute believe swarm robotics and the idea of collective intelligence could one day result in robots building space stations or structures in dangerous emergency situations.

As science continues to look towards nature for inspiration, Justin and his colleagues have high hopes for the future of swarm robotics and collective intelligence. See the video below of the Wyss Institute’s robots and read more in the journal Science.

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