A single Kilobot, developed by Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, doesn’t really look like an ant or any insect for that matter. Put a bunch of them together and it’s an entirely different story.
The quarter-sized robots work as a swarm thanks to algorithms that dictate their collective behavior. As the video shows, the Kilobots interact with each other in much the same way that a colony of ants does.
Groups of up to 29 Kilobots can work together autonomously, spacing themselves evenly from each other while “walking,” organizing themselves to bring simulated food back to a nest and synchronizing their blinking lights through constant communication.
You’d think technology this cool wouldn’t be cheap, but you’d be wrong: Each Kilobot costs only about $14 to make. Building new Kilobots is cheap and easy, which makes testing new algorithms a relatively painless process and paves the way for larger swarms of robots.