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Tech by VICE

Robots Are Controlling Each Other Now

This vid was presented earlier this month at the latest International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS) in Vilamoura, Algarve in Portugal by Rehan O'Grady, and Marco Dorigo, from Universite Libre de Bruxelles and Instituto...

by Lara Heintz
Oct 26 2012, 5:00pm

This vid was presented earlier this month at the latest International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS) in Vilamoura, Algarve in Portugal by Rehan O’Grady, and Marco Dorigo, from Universite Libre de Bruxelles and Instituto Universitario de Lisboa. In case you’re wondering what the heck you’re looking at, it’s a swarm of robots working together in harmony with an AR drone to become better robots… stronger robots.

You see, while we’ve been concentrating on swarms of insect-sized quadrotors acting like a school of minnows trying to become some robotic human-eating mega shark, or projects like Swarmanoid Dorigo’s previous project, we forget that sometimes these robots are limited by their homogeneous construction and individual vantage points.

For instance, the flock of robots in this video are just a bunch of tiny ground-lings that maybe can’t judge the terrain of a hill very well. Bring in an airborne AR drone, and develop a system for it to scope out the landscape and organize the swarm like soldiers in a game of Battleship, and problem solved.

Swarmanoid also comes in movie form

Watching the AR drone command and sort swarm robots according to colored light responses, it’s hard to decide whether this is terrifying or just quaint. In either case, it’s impressive that science has finally found a way to bypass the ever-present pesky middleman (humans) when it comes to drone control. Maybe someday we will all be able to experience a society where robots can work with other robots, helping each other reach their goals and dreams. Or maybe we’ll all just start singing Daisy.

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