AI News, Watch This Little Termite Robot Build Itself Some Stairs

Watch This Little Termite Robot Build Itself Some Stairs

Swarms of robots might not always seem like the friendliest things to have in your life, but next time you need a tiny stairway, this hard-working little robot named Kali and a bunch of its friends are here to serve.

Like termites, Termes robots are simple and autonomous, and are able to cooperatively move heaps of standard building blocks (specially designed to allow the robots to both lift and crawl around on them) to create just about anything, as long as you give them enough blocks and enough time.

TERMES Project Concludes, Insect Robots Declare Victory

Modeled after some of nature's most prolific and talented builders (at least, prolific and talented relative to their size), the TERMES robots are very simple, but are capable of working together to build relatively complex structures over time, using a simple set of rules that don't require any centralized command or control.

When we last checked in with TERMES, they'd been working on 'an algorithmic approach to constructing desired structures using decentralized rules,' which means being able to tell a computer what sort of structure you want, and having the computer figure out what sets of simple rules the robots all need to obey to make it happen.

The video above shows that in practice, which is cool to actually see, although we're kind of hoping that the project will continue in some form, at least long enough to see these little robots build a replica of the pyramids or something.

Justin Werfel

Collective construction Termite colonies build tremendous, complicated mounds, acting with no central control or careful advance planning.

These social insects provide a fantastic proof of principle that limited agents, acting independently with access only to local information, can build amazing things.

How could we build and program robot swarms—artificial termite colonies—to build things for us?

We want a human user to be able to give such a swarm a high-level description of what they want built, and have a guarantee that the system will build that thing, without the user having to be involved in the details of how it’s done.

2014 Science paper received a tremendous amount of attention, including coverage by CNN, NPR

Publications: Local force cues for strength and stability in a distributed robotic construction system.

Toward automating construction with decentralized climbing robots and environmentally adaptive, functionally specified structures.

Using local force measurements to guide construction by distributed climbing robots.

Designing collective behavior in a termite-inspired robot construction team.

free access without a subscription, please follow the links here.] [Highlighted

TERMES: an autonomous robotic system for three-dimensional collective construction.

Towards a common comparison framework for global-to-local programming of self-assembling robotic systems.

Distributed construction by mobile robots with enhanced building blocks.

[Received Technical Innovation Award for 'elegant connection of theory and design'.] Building patterned structures with robot swarms.

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