There might be very few sectors in which robots have not stepped into. And now it seems that very soon we will see robots in every sectors. However, some computer scientists at Harvard University are now creating a crew of tiny robots that would be able to build houses in future.
Scientists from Harvard University said at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting that these tiny mechanical creatures will be known as TERMES and will be able to tote bricks, build staircases or construct a pyramid. Each robot will come with three motors and will have limited sensing ability that only gives information about the machine’s direct surroundings.
These robots won’t need any direct orders from anybody, rather they will robots rely on a concept known as stigmergy, which is a kind of implicit communication whereby the machines observe each others’ changes to the environment and act accordingly. That means, one robot can work in parallel with others, without the knowledge of the overall process — who is building what, or where.
Justin Werfel, a research scientist at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, said, “You can give the robots, in effect, a picture of what you want them to build. And it doesn’t matter how many of them there are or whether that number changes or which robot does what and when. Together, they will wind up building what you asked for.”
On the other side, principal investigator Radhika Nagpal, a professor of computer science at Harvard SEAS said, “The key inspiration we took from the termites is the idea that you can do something really complicated as a group without a supervisor, and secondly that you can do it without everybody discussing explicitly what’s going on, but just by modifying the environment.”
No doubt, such robots are “an important proof of concept for scalable, distributed artificial intelligence.” Researchers hope that one day the robots will be able to build things at those places where humans will not be able to go. Here’s a video of the TERMES robots.
Source: Harvard SEAS