Miniature robots may provide clues for future technology advances in transport. A robotics team from the University of Pennsylvania is conducting research into Swarm Technology.
The research team designed a system that allows them to coordinate several small quadcopters with one device. The goal is to use one device to coordinate all of the robots instead of having to program each one separately.
A video has been posted on YouTube from the lab at UPenn that shows the quadcopters in action. Viewers can see the ability of the copters to act as a team with amazing agility in the moves. These quadcopters can perform tricks such as flipping over while staying in flight. 16 quadcopters are used and they change direction, move along obstacles and land in formation. They can even fly in a figure-eight formation, which is amazing to watch.
It takes careful operation to coordinate multiple robots and presents a major challenge for researchers. It is more effective and efficient to use a device to control the robots as a group. As this advances, the technology could be used with larger robots to provide search and rescue or for surveillance. The technology could also be used in more commercial settings such as in cars to make traffic move more safely and efficiently. Cars that can sense how far away other vehicles are can react to changes in traffic flow-avoiding accidents and making cars move in sync. Avoiding unnecessary tailbacks.
Watching the robots work together as if they are in sync is amazing. It appears as if they are aware of where the others are located as they avoid contact and keep the same distance for their maneuvers. The robots sound like a swarm of bees as they move together, but it is the way they move as one that will blow you away. One can only imagine where this could lead as the technology advances to larger items.