Programmable self-assembly in a thousand-robot swarm

Michael Rubenstein*, Alejandro Cornejo, Radhika Nagpal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

509 Scopus citations

Abstract

Self-assembly enables nature to build complex forms, from multicellular organisms to complex animal structures such as flocks of birds, through the interaction of vast numbers of limited and unreliable individuals. Creating this ability in engineered systems poses challenges in the design of both algorithms and physical systems that can operate at such scales. We report a system that demonstrates programmable self-assembly of complex two-dimensional shapes with a thousand-robot swarm. This was enabled by creating autonomous robots designed to operate in large groups and to cooperate through local interactions and by developing a collective algorithm for shape formation that is highly robust to the variability and error characteristic of large-scale decentralized systems. This work advances the aim of creating artificial swarms with the capabilities of natural ones.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)795-799
Number of pages5
JournalScience
Volume345
Issue number6198
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 15 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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