'Dumb' robot ants are alarmingly smart (and strong) working together | ZDNet

" A team of Swiss researchers with bugs on the brain has created an army of simple robotic “ants” capable of some impressive feats. The takeaway from these 10 gram bots, which are inexpensive to make and surprisingly simple in design? Teamwork makes the dream work.

As described in a new paper in the journal Nature, the ants can communicate with each other, assign roles among themselves, and complete complex tasks and overcome obstacles together. That means that while simple compared to much more complex autonomous agents, these origami-inspired robots can solve complex challenges, such navigating uneven surfaces or, yes, moving comparatively huge objects.

Swarm robotics is a burgeoning field, with potential applications in everything from manufacturing to combat. The Tribots, by delineating separate roles, go a step beyond swarms to form useful robotic colonies. Paik believes one use case could include search and rescue missions.

“Since they can be manufactured and deployed in large numbers, having some ‘casualties’ would not affect the success of the mission,” adds Paik. “With their unique collective intelligence, our tiny robots are better equipped to adapt to unknown environments. Therefore, for certain missions, they would outperform larger, more powerful robots.”"

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