Assistant Professor Nikolaus Correll likes to think in multiples. If one robot can accomplish a singular task, think how much more could be accomplished if you had hundreds of them.
He and his computer science research team, which includes research associate Dustin Reishus and professional research assistant Nick Farrow, have developed a basic robotic building block, which they hope to reproduce in large quantities to develop increasingly complex systems.
Recently the team created a swarm of 20 robots, each the size of a ping-pong ball, which they call “droplets.” When the droplets swarm together, they form a “liquid that thinks.”
Correll says there is virtually no limit to what might be created through distributed intelligence systems.
Similar to the fictional “nanomorphs” depicted in the Terminator films, large swarms of intelligent robotic devices could be used for a range of tasks. They could be unleashed to contain an oil spill or to self-assemble into a piece of hardware after being launched separately into space.