This is cool: student Edward Macdonald, working on his thesis at Georgia Tech, created a team of robots that can arrange themselves into pre-set formations with the minimum of movement.
Here’s the amazing part: the robots aren’t communicating with one another.
Each robot knows its own position, and the relative positions of all its companions (thanks to a camera suspended above, and a wifi network that all the bots are connected to). With this basic data, the robots use a mathematical algorithm to calculate how to make the shape they’ve been asked to make, with the least amount of traveling.
Because they’re all thinking the same way, they all come to the same conclusions about how and where to move. The result is this delightful techno ballet, with the robots smoothly reforming the letters “GRITS” (“Georgia Robotics and Intelligent Systems”), even when their layout is deliberately disturbed.
Is this the kind of tech we need for cars that drive themselves? Minority Report, here we come. Again.